A positive perspective on electric vehicles

Because we recently ran a story that was highly critical of electric cars, here’s a positive story for balance. – Anthony

Guest essay by Jan Kjetil Andersen, Jkandersen.no Csens.org

I want to share some thoughts and experiences about using electric vehicles (EV) and how they compare to traditional internal combustion engines (ICE).

My personal experience is based on being a user of Nissan Leaf in my daily commute for the last four years. We do also have two ordinary cars in the family, but what we see is that the EV is the car everyone chooses first. The reason is obvious; it is simply a much better car to drive. The noiseless engine let you hear the wind blowing and the birds singing, or you can turn on music and hear it without any disturbing engine in the background. The gearless drivetrain gives a unique smoothness, and the acceleration is just superb.

My experience so far have made me to be an enthusiastic EV supporter, not because I think I save the planet, but because I find the EV much more enjoyable to drive.

With that as a prologue, let us take a look on the more theoretical and technical constraints of electric versus fossil fueled cars.

Efficiency of combustion engines – theoretical limits

Efficiency is the relationship between the total energy contained in the fuel, and the amount of energy used to perform useful work.

Let us first analyze the theoretical limits given by the physical laws for an “ideal” frictionless engine.

The most fundamental limit of efficiency for a combustion engine is given by Carnot’s Theorem which states that:

The Maximum Efficiency = (T2-T1)/T2

Where

T2 = The maximum temperature in the process in Kelvin

T1 = The minimum temperature in the process in Kelvin

If for instance the minimum temperature is 300K (27 Celsius), and the maximum is 1200 K (927 C), the maximum theoretical efficiency is (1200 – 300)/1200 = 900/1200 = 75%

The main point to take from this is that the maximum theoretical efficiency is substantially below 100%, even if the machine is without any friction.

But even though all gasoline and diesel engines are covered by the general Carnot process, they are far from a Carnot processes. We come one step closer to reality by looking at the theoretical upper limit for Otto cycles and diesel cycles for gasoline and diesel engines respectively. The theoretical efficiencies of an Otto cycle, diesel cycle or any other thermal cycle can never beat the Carnot cycle, but they set an upper limit for those engines.

The maximum efficiency of an Otto engine is given by the compression ratio, the higher compression the higher efficiency. However, the compression ratio of Otto cycle engines is limited by the need to prevent the uncontrolled combustion known as knocking. Modern engines have compression ratios in the range 8 to 11, resulting in theoretical ideal cycle efficiencies of 56% to 61%.

The Diesel cycle is less efficient than the Otto cycle when using the same compression ratio, but this is more than compensated by the higher compression ratio. Diesel engines therefore have slightly higher efficiency than gasoline engines.

Efficiency of combustion engines – in practice

Real engines are obviously not ideal. The actual cycle of a four-stroke gasoline engine is very different from the idealized Otto cycle. In addition, there are of course frictions in all moving parts which results in truly existing engine efficiency in the range of 25% – 30% in ordinary gasoline automobiles.

In addition to that, there are losses in the drivetrain between engine and wheels, resulting in actual power to the wheels efficiency of only 18% – 25%.

So how does this compare to the efficiency in an EV?

Well first of all, there is no theoretical upper limit for efficiency like the Carnot theorem for EV. A frictionless electric engine has a theoretical efficiency of 100%.

In practice we see that there are losses in charging batteries, using batteries and friction in the electric drivetrain, but the actual power to the wheels is here about 82 percent, i.e. several times better than an ICE.

image

The figure above show development in the efficiency for steam, gasoline and electric engines. James Watt revolutionized the steam engine by improving the efficiency from Newcomen’s puny 0.5% to 3%. Later triple expansion engines reached about 10% efficiency. Nicolas Otto’s petroleum motor had 12% efficiency, and the Spague electric motor had about 70% efficiency.

The superior efficiency of electric motors is also illustrated by the fact that it makes sense for diesel electric railway locomotives to use an electric generator combined with an electric motor as a replacement for a mechanical transmission.

The Battery vs the gasoline tank

The electric automobile engine is in my opinion superior to the combustion engine. In low and moderate speeds, you get the noiselessness and smoothness of a luxury car, the acceleration of a sports car and the energy use of a moped. That combination is unbeatable by any single fossil fueled car.

However, when the features of energy storage in a battery is compared to a gasoline tank there is no doubt that the battery is far inferior.

The battery in my Nissan Leaf has a capacity of 24 KWh, which is equivalent to 2.6 liters (0.7 US Gallons) of gasoline.

Imaging having a car with 0.7 gallons gasoline tank, which it takes 8 hours to fill at home, or 25 minutes on a supercharger, would you, buy it?

Well I have, and I must say that in spite of the low range, I am overall very satisfied with it.

Due to the good energy economy, it has a driving range from 140 km with modest speed in the summer to about 80 km in the coldest winter months. Those ranges may seem puny, but in my experience, it covers the vast majority of most people’s driving needs.

Battery development

The prices of Li-ion batteries have dropped considerably recent years and the drop is projected to continue. How fast the prices drop can be debated, but approximately 14% annually, as is described in this article, is a conservative bet.

Fourteen percent drop each year translates to halving the prices in five years. This development can be seen on the new generation EV now brought to the market. The prices have not halved, but the battery size and range have approximately doubled compared to the ones we saw five years ago.

Tesla is leading the range contest with 500 km (310 mile) range and a supercharging rate of 270 km (170 miles) in 30 minutes. With those figures, the range and filling time properties starts to close in on fossil fueled cars.

In practice no more time on filling station than for a gasoline car.

Personally, I do not use more time on supercharger stations than I used to use on gasoline stations. The reason is that I charge at home, and do not use supercharges station more than approximately 10 times per year. I may stay there 20 minutes each time, which amounts to 200 minutes annually. A petrol car with the same driving distance would have to be filled about 50 times per year, which would have taken about the same time in total when the stop, opening tank, payment et cetera is included.

Toque and rotational speed

Torque is a measure of the turning force on an object such as a bolt or a crankshaft. It is important to understand this unit to get a grip of a fundamental benefit of the EV, so let us examine it a bit.

Torque is measured internationally in Newton*meter. As an example to illustrate the amplitude of the unit; you should use about 100 Nm on each bolt if you want to fasten your wheels on your car.

The conversion factor between torque and power delivered is that power in watt equals torque multiplied by rotations per second multiplied by two Pi:

P = T * R*2*Pi

The reason it has to be like this, is that Watt is just Nm per second and the perimeter of the circle with on meter radius is 2 Pi as seen on the figure below.

image

Figure: If you push a handle of 1 meter one rotation in one second you deliver a power in Watt of 2 Pi times the torque.

If the crankshaft for example has a rotation speed of 10 rotations per second and 100Nm torque is applied, the power delivered is 6.26 Kilowatt (KW). The same torque applied at 100 rotations per second thus gives 62.8 KWFigure: If you push a handle of 1 meter one rotation in one second you deliver a power in Watt of 2 Pi times the torque.

The rotation speed given by tachometers in automobiles usually show rotations per minute (RPM), not per second, so I will continue with the most common form here.

image

Figure, the tachometer in an ordinary petrol vehicle. Here showing 2000 RPM on a scale going to 7000RPM.

The reason we are interested in torque is that it gives valuable information about the engine behavior with different rotational speeds. A typical plot for petrol and electric automobile engines is shown in the figure below.

image

Figure. Typical torque/RPM diagrams for traditional gasoline engine, modern electronically regulated gasoline engine and electric vehicles.

Gasoline engines have a useful rotation range approximately between and 1500 to 6000 RPM. However, in ordinary smooth driving you want to stay between 2000 and 3000 RPM.

The electronics in modern cars modern cars usually cap the torque to an upper fixed value, which is seen as a flat torque curve. There are two advantages with this. The first is that the drive chain must be scaled to handle the maximum toque, and it is uneconomical to have those dimensions just for a narrow peak range.

The second is that a flat toque curve feels smoother because, as long as the air resistance is negligible, constant toque gives constant acceleration. The G-force you feel against the seat is therefore constant, and that feels better than a varying acceleration.

The torque delivered by an EV is high and even from zero to about 4000 RPM, and thereafter slowly decreases. An EV operate over a very broad rotation spectrum. This eliminates the need for a gearbox.

You can do without shifting gears on a gasoline car too, just put it in second gear, start with some careful clutching and you may accelerate up to motorway velocity and stay there without using any other gears. The tachometer will then show around 6000 RPM. It is of course not recommendable to drive like that since it may damage the engine. You will also use extra petrol and it gives a lot of vibrations and noise.

Nevertheless, this demonstrates one aspect of the difference between ICE and EV; an EV has no engine noise even at 12 000 RPM.

The torque curve and wide rotational spectrum show that an EV has some features that is just better than what you find on a similar ICE.

Comparison

The table below gives a side by side overview of EV vs ICE features

Combustion vehicles Electrical Vehicles Plus / minus for EV
Engine Noise Varying None +
Acceleration Varying Excellent +
Gearing Varying No gearing +
Energy economy 7 – 8 L/100 km

(35-40 Mpg)

Approximately: 2 KWh /100 Km = 2,0 L /100 km

( 120 mpg)

++
Engine Oil Change every 10 000 km No oil +
Transmission oil Change very 100 000 km No transmission oil +
Brakes Tear out after approximately 100 000 km Almost never tear out because of regenerative braking is used instead of brakes +
Driveline complexity (increase cost) Complex, hundreds of moving parts Small, few parts, very few moving parts +
Engine durability Good Good equal
Energy storage Gasoline tank Li-ion battery with 5 – 8 years warranty

Replacing battery may cost 10 000 – 20 000 USD

(but battery prices are falling)

Range Approximately 700 km Up to 500 km
Fill up time station 2 minutes 30 – 60 minutes
Availability of gas/supercharging stations Good Sparse, but improving
Option to fill up at home In practice: no. Yes, but slow ++
Total economy Depends on oil prices Improving as battery prices continue to drop In transition from minus to plus?

There is a large uncertainty concerning the total economy because of the yet unknown lifetime of the battery.

The warranty for most EVs batteries today is that there shall be at least 70% capacity left after 8 years or 160 000 km (100 000 miles). This guarantee may not seem very assuring since a modern car of good quality should at least last twice as long as that. That means that the owner run a substantial risk of having to replace the battery at least one time in the car’s lifetime.

The battery pack is the most expensive item in an electric vehicle. The current cost is approximately 300 USD/KWh which gives a price of USD 22 500 for a car with 75 KWh battery. If the prices continue to drop by 14 % annually, the price will be USD 6732 eight years from now, still a considerate amount, but at least it is more acceptable than the current price.

My experience there is that after four years and 91 000 km, I see no performance drop at all. I use my daily commute as a benchmark, and on days with mild temperatures, I have always used exactly 20% battery capacity on 29 km.

Conclusion

The EV driving experience is superb, but the range and recharging time is still inferior compared to traditional cars.

However, the technology is now evolving quicker for EV than for traditional cars and the battery prices are cut in half every fifth year.

Many different sources all forecast that the market share of EV will grow from the current 0.2 percent. BP forecast a slow growth up to six percent market share in 2035, while Bloomberg new energy forecast that EV will outsell ICE in 2038.

Personally, I think the evolution will go even quicker. The much better energy efficiency and torque curves are revolutionary improvements which are impossible to match for any ICE. The EV will soon have both better total economy and better driving performance than any ICE, and most people will then buy the best and most economical vehicle. My bet is that EV will outsell ICE before the year 2030.

I do recommend them now in 2018, may be not yet for the economy, but definitely for the driving experience.

 

 


References:

1. Fuel economy: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv.shtml

2. Nature: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n4/full/nclimate2564.html?foxtrotcallback=true

3. Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-06/the-electric-car-revolution-is-accelerating

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381 thoughts on “A positive perspective on electric vehicles

  1. One quibble: Option to fill up at home. You can store small amounts of fuel in containers to keep at home or, more importantly, in the car itself.
    The latter speaks to one point not covered: emergencies when you run out of fuel completely. In the ICE not only can you fix the problem yourself, but a passing motorist could also help you, especially in a remote location. In an electric vehicle, if you run out of fuel on the road then you are in more serious trouble.

    • Hi Michael – This is one of the reasons why we bought a plug-in hybrid vehicle. It is very comforting to know that the petrol engine is there alongside the electric engine should you need it. Also, the regenerative braking puts miles back into the battery when you are going downhill or slowing the car for any reason. You can actually see the miles going back into the battery on the display. I can highly recommend plug-in hybrids. In the UK, you are also provided with a charging point at home (it used to be FOC, don’t know if it still is). Of course, you need off-street parking for this to be an option.

      • I think this is an excellent article. We skeptics are not against electric vehicles, it’s just the cost factor, the range anxiety and the charging time that are the real problems. Here in Quebec, the government offers an $8,000 incentive to help with the purchase of an e-car. Added to that, the city of Laval just announced that it would add another $2,000 for residents (if I were a resident, I’d be up in arms about that one). Notwithstanding the fact that we have cheap, abundant hydro power in “la belle province”, (about 9 cents Canadian per marginal KWH), plus a $10,000 “bribe” to boot, and e-car owners don’t pay their share of road taxes, electric car sales are still minuscule. That’s got to tell you something.

    • I agree, filling up at home is a mute point. There are filling stations in almost every town and having a small can of fuel can act as an emergency supply if you get stuck somewhere. what happens in an EV? You have get towed.

      • Well… you COULD imagine an EV system where you can carry a spare ‘can’ of charge for emergency which could be swapped in to get you to the next charging outlet.
        It isn’t how they build them right now, but it could be done. Or..your autoclub will carry a quick boost to get you going a short distance maybe.

      • You could carry a trunk (boot) load of solar cells that you stretch out on top of the car and along the shoulder (verge) if you run out during a sunny day. Three days later you could have enough electrons to get to a charge station.

      • I live in a large apartment complex where the outdoor parking has only standard plugs available useless for charging electric vehicles. Therefore if i bought an electric car i always would have to go to a charging station which will take a lot longer than filling up with gasoline.

      • “I agree, filling up at home is a mute point. There are filling stations in almost every town and having a small can of fuel can act as an emergency supply if you get stuck somewhere. what happens in an EV? You have get towed.”
        The operative phrase is “if you get stuck somewhere”. There is a thing called capitalism. Restaurants, gas stations and malls are starting to offer, and will increasingly offer, charging points – as a way to attract customers. If I’m driving into a town in an EV and need a charge, I’ll go to the establishment that offers charging. And that’s where I’ll spend my money on a meal, or a coffee, or some items to buy. Same at night for hotels.
        The exact same arguments were used in the early days of the automobile – don’t buy one because you’ll run out of gas somewhere and need a tow! That one worked out ok.

      • You could always tow a trailor carrying a large portable generator and fuel tank. It might even be possible to run the genny while driving to keep the battery topped up 😉

    • I see the author did not include the efficiency of the method used to produce the electricity in home charging. This needs to be considered to be a valid comparison.

      • That was my thought. The EV is actually coal powered in most jurisdictions, though some are nuclear or natural gas powered as well. So we have to start with the efficiency level of the power plant, the grid losses to the charging station, the conversion losses from mains power to charging power, and finally the charging losses to the battery itself.
        Or to be fair I could just start at the conversion losses as I didn’t include the refinery/pipeline/delivery losses on the ICE side. The actual resource to use equations would really have to be thoroughly mapped for apples to apples comparisons.

      • Amen. And when you compare the efficiency from power plant to wheels, the EV and ICE aren’t that much different. I have a personal problem with poor people subsidizing electric cars, roads and manufacturers so virtue-signaling rich people can run around in Teslas and other luxury EVs. Additionally, as is often pointed out by detractors, the majority of EVs are powered by coal or fossil fuel. The EV advocates seem to think renewable fairy dust provides the power at the charging outlet.
        As for “silent” EVs or vehicles of any kind, where I drive tire noise predominates once you’re up to speed. My home overlooks a 4-lane divided asphalt city road with a 45-mph speed limit, and you can barely hear yourself looking down from our patio. It’s the tires, not the engines!

      • As the author lives in Norway, electricity there is 99% hydro, some 1% is from waste gas from an iron manufacturer (blast furnaces). Smart guys the Norwegians: use less oil themselves and sell more of what they pump out of the North Sea to the rest of Europe…
        Even so, modern coal and gas power stations have an energetic yield of over 50%. Transmitting lines, transformers, converters and battery losses etc. bring it down at the engine to about 40% energy yield in the car. Still better than combustion engines which are at 25% (gasoline) to 35% (diesel). Additional advantage: cleaning the exhaust from NOx, SOx, particulates,… is much easier in a central large facility than in hundredthousands of mobile sources…
        If the price comes down further (essential) and the range gets longer (less important for me), I will likely buy one (if I am still alive then…).

      • Not only has the author left out the effects of the efficiency of the generation and distribution of power, but also the efficiency of the charge/discharge cycle of the battery; although, my quick reading up on the subject did not find any significant loss (only 1%).

      • I hit a wrong key and posted an incomplete comment.
        The efficiency given for steam in the table is deceptive, as it does not include steam turbines, which are about 40%. Steam powered automobiles have the additional problem of not being able to mount adequate condenser systems. Steam locomotives often did not even bother condensing the steam, although exhausting the expanded steam through a nozzle in the smoke box and out the stack did supply the draft needed to keep the fire burning.
        Combined cycle generating stations where the exhaust heat of a gas turbine is used to raise steam for a steam turbine are at 60%
        Diesel aircraft engines were built and tested at 45% (Napier Nomad); although, these engines cannot be described as either simple or inexpensive (the Napier Nomad can be fairly described as a turboshaft engine with a diesel engine replacing the combustor section).
        The bane of the Otto cycle, while not as bad as the Brayton cycle (gas turbine engine fuel consumption at idle is usually 30% of the fuel consumption at full rated power), is part load efficiency. Closing the throttle valve reduces power by increasing the pumping losses and effectively reducing the compression ratio. Cars are not well designed to run their engines at peak efficiency, so the efficiency in use of an Otto cycle engine is always lower than the potential efficiency. The Cadillac V4-6-8 was the first engine to try to address the part load problem, but did it badly. The diesel cycle solves much of the part load problem by eliminating the throttle valve and controlling power output by varying the fuel flow.
        The Atkinson cycle increases the efficiency of an engine by cleverly allowing the compression and expansion ratios of the piston cycling in a cylinder to be different.
        Assuming charging from a combined cycle plant, the electric vehicle drops to about 55% (transmission and distribution losses are not very large), which is not that much better than potential diesel engines. A diesel-electric series hybrid offers the best of both worlds. Coal fired electric vehicles are not much better conventional gasoline powered cars.

      • @ Richard,
        The author does mention electrical transform loses.
        re this:
        ” … Coal fired electric vehicles are not much better conventional gasoline powered cars. … ”
        Besides being untrue this sort of characterisation sounds more and more pointless in discussions of EVs, so why keep doing it?
        Who cares how the electrons are generated? Do you care where your gasoline came from, or just its cost and availability? It’s not a discussion about the environmental pros and cons of electron varieties. It’s just a compare and contrast of both owning and driving EV, verses ICE.
        Is your dishwasher coal powered? Or is that a totally irrelevant factor? Well it’s totally irrelevant to the EV owner too.
        All that matters here is cost, practicality and reliability of operation over time.
        To insinuate that cost of operation is even remotely similar for ICE and EV is not even close to true, and that is the only efficiency that matters here, for owner or prospective buyer.
        It is really drawing an absurdly long bow for critics to keep playing a relative efficiency card, when attempting to make ICE engines look competitive (or even sensible any more).
        Yes, EVs cost more to buy for now, economies of scale will change that big-time within the next 10 years. But the cost to operate an EV is DIRT CHEAP—right now. And that makes a LOT of sense to the owners.
        But running costs of operating an ICE vehicle … wow! … now that’s rediculously EXPENSIVE, in comparison to an EV.
        So who cares about some meaningless ‘coal powered’ lable, or the irrelevant contrived efficency arguments?

      • Yes. This article is very poor from an engineering perspective, lots of omissions (like the national generation mix, with mostly fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal providing the energy to charge his EV), meaningless apples-and-oranges comparisons (like his deceptive “energy efficiency” diagram which totally misses the point that EV are simply energy delivery systems), and misleading physics. As an engineer, I give it an F.

      • This article is very poor from an engineering perspective, lots of omissions (like the national generation mix, with mostly fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal providing the energy to charge his EV)

        It seems like you would like another article. I have chosen not to analyze the energy mix because it is an entirely different topic. My focus is the fundamental differences between ICE and EV concerning energy economy, performance and driving experience.

        meaningless apples-and-oranges comparisons (like his deceptive “energy efficiency” diagram which totally misses the point that EV are simply energy delivery systems),

        You miss the point here Rod.
        If you use electricity or gas to heat water, you will use about the same energy because electricity is no better than gas in warming up stuff.
        But electricity is far better than gas in converting electric energy to mechanical energy. This is a fundamental difference between fossil energy and electric energy.
        You could justify looking at electricity as energy delivery system to the cars if the electricity was generated by the same resource as diesel and gasoline, but it is not. We do not use oil for power generation, and we do not use nuclear, coal, natural gas or renewable energy as direct power sources for our cars. The two energy forms origins from different sources, but they are both available to the customer as energy which can be measured by the same units.
        We customer would benefit to use gas for what it is most suited to and electricity to what that energy for is most suited to. It is therefore useful to know that electric energy have better efficiency than fossil energy when used to drive automobiles.
        /Jan

    • Diluting the ‘superior efficiency’ of the EV is the ‘efficiency’ of the electrical generation and distribution system which sure the hell ain’t 95%. In addition to that is the fact that hydrocarbon fuel stores energy at 30 to 40 MJ/kG whereas even the best battery technology is just approaching about 1 mJ.kG so the 95%er technology starts a damn long way behind, and order of magnitude or more in mass of on board energy storage. An EV must weigh a lot more to have reasonable range.
      I was talking to a younger colleague recently who was spruiking the benefits of his Tesla and its 500 km range, plug in at home and $4 recharge cost and I guess ~$100k initial price tag. I countered with my 15 year old diesel station wagon which can get 1200 km on a tank and I can fill up in 5 minutes all over the place. Oh and I paid $25k for it 10 years ago. I reckon I am so far in front it is not funny. I did not even raise what does he do when he is 500 km from home and the battery is flat.
      EV’s are fine as town cars I guess but that is hardly the end of the discussion.

      • Yes. Add to that the fact that a hybrid is nothing more than a very small throttled ICE trying to mimic a diesel (which has no vacuum causing throttle), save regeneration, using batteries & electric motor as a load leveler. This is based on the “pump loop” of thermodynamic theory (PV diagram), where, as my old automotive engineer thermo professor taught us, the spark ignition ICE’s throttle plate causes the creation of a strong manifold vacuum (vacuum pumps take lots of energy), which is only felt when gearing down. But it sucks energy at constant speed, even if one cannot feel it. So the solution is to use such a small engine that it generally operates at high throttle settings as to minimize manifold vacuum. But then the engine is too small to be practical, unless, viola! One adds batteries and an electric motor for hill and passing boost. But this begs the question: Why not just use a diesel in the first place?

    • I cannot make out where the writers live, but here in the UK we have had a wet cold winter, and no mention is made of the effect of lights, radio, demisting and heating on the range possible with the leaf. There have also been a number of occasions where drivers have been caught in traffic holdups on motorways for several hours in the snow. What happens then?

      • When EVs are not rolling they are bearly discharging, so what’s the problem? If that’s the concern, just buy a hybrid electric, and it will autonatically start and recharge itself while stationary, then shut itself down again without the dtiver doing anything. Many hybrids will do 900 km on a full tank.

      • “When EVs are not rolling they are bearly discharging, so what’s the problem?”
        Tesla’s are not just “barely discharging.” Some model 3 Tesla owners are finding that there are phantom discharges when parked or overnight. Some of this is to activate the cooling or heating system to keep the batteries in the right temperature range.

  2. No sale sorry.
    Even at $6732 for a battery replacement I doubt many people will actually replace the battery – for an 8 yr old car that price likely represents more than 50% of the value of the car.
    So with battery life at ~8 yrs that effectively means the cost of the car has to be written off before you need a new battery.
    A Tesla at $35,000 / 8 years = $4375 / year drop in value, substantially higher than an equivalent gasoline car which would likely still be worth $8000 or so, resulting in a depreciation of $3375 / year assuming $8000 trade in or resale value after 8 years. And that 8 year old car will deliver nearly 100% or its original range right up to the point it is sold.
    The used battery might have some salvage value, but a higher salvage value will also be reflected in a higher replacement battery cost, so no real win.

    • Except that a battery life of 8 years is flat out wrong, at least for best in class. Here’s real world, up to date data from 350 Tesla owners. The trend line indicates 300,000 km before battery life drops to 90%, which is still more than ample for most owners. 300,000km is 186,000 miles, which is 12-15 years of life, depending on annual miles driven (I used a range of 12,000 miles to 15,000 miles). And the battery is still at 90%, so no need to replace it at all. A more realistic replacement figure would be 70-80%, meaning something in the 240,000 to 300,000 mile effective life. https://electrek.co/2018/04/14/tesla-battery-degradation-data/

      • An amazing claim, given that in the Tesla’s price ranges for their first models; few people treat the Tesla as a daily driver.

      • Those numbers represent batteries being used under ideal, laboratory conditions. In the real world, the numbers are a lot lower.

      • The point that Atheok is making is that Tesla’s are rich man toys paid for by poor man’s taxes. Without large tax subsidies sales would dry up.
        At this point, no cost is ascribed to the EV’s exploiting the existing power grid, so the assumption is that there is none. Very simple back of the envelope calculations show that displacement of ICE powered vehicles by EV’s would require a doubling or tripling of the present electric grid and generation capacity. The calculation goes thusly: Google the amount of transport fuel burned annually and calculate the contained energy. Then look at the power grid capacity. Massive disparity. EV’s would need two to three of our power grids to fill the gap.
        As a car guy, the engineering and performance advantages of electric cars are obvious and very interesting. As a guy who cares about the environment, I think the doubling or tripling of the electric grid would wreak environmental havoc. And extended battery life and superfast charging times does not solve that problem. If anything, it makes it more intractable, as everyone tries to pull through the straw quicker.
        EV’s are like Blanche Dobois in “A Streetcar Named Desire”; they will always depend on the kindness of strangers. In this case, taxpayers and the fossil fuel industry trowel in the lines and wrinkles of EV’s, In some very specific cases they make sense, but only if someone else is willing to pay for it.

      • Shoshin, how do existing electrical devices “pay their way” towards the grid?Through electricity revenues, of course. EVs are no different, so your argument that EVs do not pay their way is incorrect.
        Your argument that the grid would need to be tripled or quadrupled is also incorrect. Utilities have excess power at night, it sells at a lower rate. The vast majority of EV owners, when they know this, will set the timer to charge their vehicles at night.
        It is fair to say that EVs don’t pay their fair share of road costs, so their would need to be an EV levy, that would be linked to the license tab cost. That is fair and reasonable.

      • Shoshin said: “The point that Atheok is making is that Tesla’s are rich man toys paid for by poor man’s taxes. Without large tax subsidies sales would dry up.”
        Nope. The federal tax credit for EVs phases out after a car mfr hits an aggregate of 200,000 EV sales. Tesla is close to or has reached that figure. Yet Tesla has 500,000 orders for the Model 3, so the vast majority of those will obviously not be eligible for the tax credit.

      • But those orders were placed during the time of the subsidy…AND…at their current rate of production those 500,000 pre-orders will likely not be fulfilled until 2020 or 2021

      • Bryan said: “But those orders were placed during the time of the subsidy.” 60% of the orders are international, so the US tax credit is irrelevant for them. For those in the US, the roughly 200,000 customers, there has been a lot of press about the phase out of the credit. And Tesla surely would make that clear, else would be open to deceptive practices charges.

      • Like Tesla has been totally open and up front about everything since they began production of any vehicle?
        The only difference between a Tesla with a 240 mi range and a Tesla with a 300 mile range is coding in the computer that drives battery usage… and an extra $10,000 charge to have the extended range accessible.
        Even VW has hidden things from the public … and got caught.

      • Sorry Chris, but you are totally wrong about EVs paying their way.
        They do not pay a single penny/cent of TAX.
        In the UK around 66% of the price of vehicular FF is TAX.
        Add that to the price of the Electricity used for charging and then you will see a more level playing field, remove the purchase subsidy and then it would be level.

      • @ Shoshin
        “Then look at the power grid capacity. Massive disparity. EV’s would need two to three of our power grids to fill the gap.”
        —-
        So? Build it and clean generation emissions.
        What is a potentual and actual environmental hazard is the on-going global use of petro chemicals, in both usage and trading, plus its strategic threats and consequences, which are also environmentally destructive, from time to time. We know how to use all current fuel sources cleanly. It is the treatment, refining and transport of oil and its cracking products which represents the greatest environmental hazard.

      • AC Osborn, I’m 100% correct. Shoshin said that EVs don’t contribute anything to grid costs. Which is completely incorrect, any electricity EVs use is paid for, just like any other user of electricity, such as a homeowner or office building owner. Now, someone may choose to give EV owners “free” electricity – whether it be Tesla or a shopping mall, but that consumption is still paid for by someone.
        With regards to road taxes, if you bothered to properly read my post, I agreed that EVs should contribute to road maintenance/building costs. And that is happening – 13 states in the US now charge an EV road tax: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/13-states-now-charge-fees-for-electric-vehicles#gs.F3EXEik

      • I am sorry but out here in the real world things are very different than in the ideal world of Tesla testing labs. Out here the batteries do not work too well when ambient temperatures are too low or too high and the range falls substantially when you put two kids, a wife, and luggage in the car and want to drive to a vacation spot in temperatures that require the use of A/C or heating, all of which come courtesy of the battery. And out here the batteries are charged with electricity that comes from generation that mostly depends on the use of fossil fuels. There is an energy loss during the generation process as well as an energy loss during the transmission process. That makes the EV efficiency claim not all that realistic. And if instead of fossil fuels we use non-hydro ‘renewables’ for our electricity generation, things are much worse and far less economic.
        We can debate about all kinds of nonsense by making all kinds of assumptions. But in the end, the market does not care about our assumptions and will be a fair judge. From where I stand, Tesla has been one of the biggest scams of my lifetime. Given the SEC filing data, I expect to see Musk announce that shareholders will be severely diluted as he searches for more funding or announce that Tesla is heading for Chapter 11 (or Chapter 7) financing within the nest six months.

    • The discussion of fuel efficiency totally ignores the loss of efficiency in producing the electricity in the first place. While the conversion of electricity into the motion of the car may be better than for gasoline powered IC vehicles, when you factor in the production of the electricity, the fuel efficiency goes way down.
      A second point is that, in any technology, the improvements early on are low hanging fruit – it’s easier to get that big battery improvement at the start, but further bumps to cost are slower later on.
      And, finally, where will all that lithium come from to supply all those batteries. Surely the expected cost reductions are based on economies of scale. If the lithium supplies won’t support the scale, thn the economies can’t be gotten.
      That’s not to say that I think there may not be a way for electric cars to be a good idea. I can see the possibility of a ‘charging lane’ on the interstate highways, where cars (and especially trucks) can ride all day without using up a (smaller) battery’s charge.

      • “That’s not to say that I think there may not be a way for electric cars to be a good idea. I can see the possibility of a ‘charging lane’ on the interstate highways, where cars (and especially trucks) can ride all day without using up a (smaller) battery’s charge.”
        The problem with these ideas is the socialization of costs. Why should ordinary people subsidize the very rich who seem to be the only ones capable of paying the extremely high prices for vehicles that don’t perform all that well and are mostly useful to signal virtue that may or may not be real? Why should governments tax ICE vehicles so much that they double the price of the cars and allow EV owners toll-free access of highways that ICE vehicle owners must pay to use even as they pay huge amounts in gasoline taxes that pay for the road building activities in the first place?
        I don’t care one way or another because I do not have all of the information. But if we stop meddling through the regulatory process, the market will tell us what makes sense and what doesn’t. I suggest that we stop promoting particular vehicle types and let consumers choose the solutions that producers offer.

    • However Eric, as the author also states, that battery cost has been falling about 14% per annum.
      14% of $6,732 = $942
      So battery price next year will be around $5,800.
      In seven more years … it will be comparitively CHEAP to replace. Economy of scale will just keep pushing battery costs down, just as it has for 20 years now, in hybrids.

    • However Eric, as the author also states, that battery cost has been falling about 14% per annum.
      14% of $6,732 = $942
      So battery price next year will be around $5,800.
      In seven more years … it will be comparitively CHEAP to replace. Economy of scale will just keep pushing battery costs down, just as it has for 20 years now in hybrids.

      • Heard of the bathtub curve? You cannot simply assume that costs keep decreasing annually. They eventually plateau then climb again. If prices kept falling we would all simply wait for our cheap laptop and mobile phone.

      • @Greame
        Yes, which is why I gave just one year to illustrate the implication. I do not know the future, so said, “In seven more years … it will be comparitively CHEAP to replace.”.
        And it will be, if it even needs replacing during the practical life cycle of the car, which frankly, seems unlikely anyway.

  3. Interesting viewpoint and it confirms that for vehicles as with everything else in life – one size does not fit all – we are all individuals.
    You don’t mention the overall cost of the vehicle as a +/-.
    Even for a basic Tesla you need to take out a mortgage.
    All other Electric vehicles (much like renewables) are subsidised and they still cost more than the equivalent ICE based vehicle. so cost of ownershiop (relative to size of vehicle / capability) is a “-” at the outset of your purchase.
    Going forward, the overall “cost” of ownership cannot decrease because as people transition to EV then governments have to recover the lost tax revenues from ICE and pile it onto EV drivers.
    Furthermore, our energy bills are already increasing due to involuntary green subsidies, so charging your car at home is another expense and it is also reliant on the premise that when we reach the great green wet dream of us running 100% on renewables – will we have enough electricity to boil our kettles let alone charge a huge Li-Ion cell repeatedly.
    I have no doubt about the performance of electric and the potential (no pun intended) but the limited range and laborious charging make them unattractive v what we have in ICE based vehicles. Also, the battery lifetime as you mention is an unknown, so if they have to be scrapped after 8 years because it is uneconomical to change the batteries, then it is good news for the car manufacturers and bad news for consumers.
    So until they have interchangeable battery packs, better range and lower selling prices (or a clear path to lower prices) then they are not of any real use to me.

    • I bought a 20 year old straight 6 F-150 with a 5 speed 18 months ago. The motor had 260,000+ miles on it. That is impressive, imo. It still runs strong, but is now burning some oil plus a few drips. It should last for many more years as it was well kept, and I can do the upkeep repairs. That is hard to beat for cost.

      • Well..see… that is because you bought something 20 yrs old that has been grandfathered re: pollution controls.
        A modern diesel, for example, has a NOX converter, a Diesel Particulate Filter, and maintenance for its Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve in addition to the traditional maintenance items.
        These items MIGHT last you maybe 100,000 miles and need replacing at a cost that will shock you.
        IN my case the diesel has 60,000 miles on it and is on its THIRD DPF filter. The replacements were each thousands of dollars under warranty. No more. Last trip I took got dinged for $4100 for oxygen sensors and maintenance items.u
        Basically, an ICE now has an on board environmental testing lab that actually stops your car if it fails to pass the testing. Unfortunately, the testing lab is more failure prone than the things it is testing for, but thank you EPA.

        • WOW, had no idea about that “…Basically, an ICE now has an on board environmental testing lab that actually stops your car if it fails to pass the testing…”. That is government overreach at its worst.

      • Maintenance on that block or a replacement engine is pretty cheap compared to a new vehicle of any type. I discovered that I get new(er) cars when I get bored with the old(er) ones.

        • Yes, it is a nice straight forward design, relatively easy to work on. The torque on the motor is amazing. I read up on the vehicle after getting it. I am glad that I did as I read that the motor basically lasts forever, if it is not revved over 3,000 rpm. I have never had such a low revving motor before so that was a key point to know about.

  4. Certainly an interesting article and my thanks to the author and to Anthony for posting it. I am still a fan of the ICE although I do think hybrids offer a useful compromise along the development path, especially serial hybrids (which essentially use the ICE only as a generator). This provides most of the abovementioned EV benefits with the flexibility of conventional gasoline engine fillup times and the insurance of extra mileage, etc.
    Norway is rather unique electricity-wise with large hydroelectric capacity and a small population. The biggest issue for pure EVs (BEVs), apart from the obvious ones of cost/subsidy/charge time/battery life, is the fact that most electricity to charge them is being generated by thermal stations burning coal and gas and today’s grid is unlikely to cope with a large number of EVs unless it is substantially upgraded.

    • Taxes on a new ICE car in Norway amount to about 100%, so a $30k car will cost you $60k out the door. In Denmark the taxes are 180%, so the same car will cost about $80k. Electric cars are taxed at much lower levels, but that will change soon enough.

      • A tax rate of 100%? Then 180%? Seriously?
        And to think that in America we rebelled over a simple tea tax. Norwegians and Danes should be in full-throated rebellion by now.

      • In Europe you may buy a new car in any EU country and contrary to other goods, don’t pay the tax in the country where you buy, but in the country where you live. That has made a good commerce for buying new cars in Denmark as car prices are at the bottom, or they can’t sell them due to the high taxes… In my country (Belgium) it gets around 30%, quite a difference… Unfortunately, nowadays many car makers make it impossible to follow that route…

    • Between opposition from greens and most of the best sites already being developed, there’s not a lot of room for expansion of hydro power in Norway. As a result all the extra electricity needed to support an expansion in the electric fleet will be coming from sources other than hydro.

      • An electric car is for you, if you can afford a second car exclusively for a short commute.

      • MarkW,
        As said above, Norwegians are smart people: although they can’t expand their hydro, they now receive massive amounts of solar and wind power from Denmark and Germany, when these have surplus production and not enough demand. That power is for free (may be even paid for!), so they don’t need to use their hydro at that moment. Some periods they deliver power back to these countries if these have shortages (for a good price), but all together their neighbours increased their power capacity.
        A lesser nice point is that they want to introduce lots of wind power in their country too. Together with their hydro capacity, that is the easiest way to manage the fluctuations in wind power production. Unfortunately, that will ruin their beautiful landscape which is my favorite vacation destination (been there over ten times…)

      • which is my favorite vacation destination (been there over ten times…)

        Ferdinand,
        Give me a notice next time you come
        Let’s take a beer together and solve some of the world’s problems.
        I am serious!
        /Jan

      • Jan Kjetil,
        Thanks for the invitation! Have some friends at Krokstadelva we like to visit (we met them in 1976 on the top of the Galdhøpiggen!). As you live near Oslo, that is not a far distance away. Not for this year as we had to buy a new car (oh horror, with gasoline motor, as there was no diesel version in automatic – my wife needs an automatic due to low back pain problems), so our vacation budget is near zero for the rest of the year…
        If you like, you can view our Norway foto’s at:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/familie/en_norge.html
        The Dutch version is going a little farther south:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/familie/nl_norge.html
        Last update is from 2007/2008, still a lot to scan and add…
        Mange hilsener fra Flandern / Belgia

      • Wow, many magnificent pictures there Ferdinand.
        I see you have hiked deep into the mountains. Olavsbu is a tough walk, and the tour over Besseggen is a 7 hour hike.
        I have hiked to several of this places myself, but the Besseggen tour is still on my “have to do once” list.
        Zero vacation budget does not match well with Norwegian prices, so we have to meet next year then.
        /Jan

  5. And the noisless engine allows you to run over pedestrians, without them ever knowing you were comming…!
    R

    • I have heard the claim that the silent car pose a threat to pedestrians, but I have never seen any facts that confirms it.
      On the contrary, statistics from Norway show that it seems to be fewer accidents with EV than with ICE.
      Secondly, there are other silent cars, Rolls Royce and other luxury brands have been noiseless for quite a long time. Have you seen any statistics showing that those cars are involved in more accidents with pedestrians?

    • Ralfellis – my neighbour (about 1/2 a block away) has a Tesla S and trust me the Tesla S is as noisy as any vehicle. I don’t know what you drive but the motors in both my cars are the quietest part of the drivetrain when standing beside them as they drive by at city speeds. The tire noise is far and away the greatest noise source. Of the ICE vehicles the war wagons (often mufflerless) and diesels are the only ones with any serious motor noise.

    • There are actually laws in some places mandating that EVs have noise generators so that pedestrians will not be caught unawares.

      • Is there a big loud speaker on the front of the car going “broom broom, zoom zoom” or does it go “look at me, look at me” ?

    • The noiseless engine is not so much a point since most noise is from the rest of the car – tires, wind etc. A Tesla on the highway makes just as much noise outside as any other modern car. I know, I live in Norway where we have lots of Teslas.
      Jan Ketil sites some kind of statistic on EVs and accidents, which was made when we had very few EV’s in Norway. The study did not account for differences in driving style and demographic of EV users and the normal population. Nobody expects EV’s to be different for ICE vehicles with regard to accidents, though. With the acceleration issues they might even be worse, since it makes people try to overtake in more risky situations. The road standard in Norway is challenging, to say the least.

      • Thank you Anders
        My point in citing statistics for accidents was to counter rafaellis hint that they are dangerous.
        I have not seen any statistics that support this insinuation.
        /Jan

  6. “Tesla is leading the range contest with 500 km (310 mile) range and a supercharging rate of 270 km (170 miles) in 30 minutes. With those figures, the range and filling time properties starts to close in on fossil fueled cars.”
    No, the car I drive refills within 10 minutes for another 1300 km. Bye Tesla, see you in a week.

      • MarkW – I’ve tested batteries at 3C charge (equivalent to flat to full in 20 minutes) over 500 cycles and there is a slight loss off life. Certainly not dramatic. You might like to connect your comments to some evidence

  7. ….Well first of all, there is no theoretical upper limit for efficiency like the Carnot theorem for EV. A frictionless electric engine has a theoretical efficiency of 100%…
    Um. For a true comparison you can’t just assume that you have energy in your batteries – you have to figure out how to get it there.
    So you need to count in the energy efficiency of generating the electricity, plus the efficiency of transporting it and the various conversion processes it goes through on teh way. Which, I suggest, brings electrical energy much closer to parity with chemical energy.
    Incidentally, if you leave an electric car for a month with a full battery, does it retain the energy as well as a petrol car? How easy is it to refuel an electric car if it runs out on the motorway? There are quite a few less measurable situations where an easily transportable compact fluid source of energy is very helpful…

    • He’s also assuming a motor with super conducting windings. Without that, there is energy lost to resistance, plus other parasitics, such as varying magnetic fields causing eddy currents in the metal of the motor.

    • Exactly the point I was going to make. For an honest “green” comparison of energy efficiency you need to include the Carnot efficiency of the generating plant plus all the I²R loss in the transmission lines plus the charging efficiency of the charger and battery. There are also some (admittedly minor) I²R losses in the onboard wires and controllers and motor, as was mentioned in the article.
      The biggest issue I have with the current situation with EVs is that they are essentially freeloading on the rest of us with not only the huge subsidies (paid from general tax revenue), but by avoiding the even larger road use taxes currently collected as gasoline taxes. In places like NY, PA and CA that amounts to about $0.02/mile or $1.25 per 100km, or 7.3 cents per KWh. That’s roughly $1.75 per full charge that a Leaf owner should be paying.

      • @ Bill,
        ” … but by avoiding the even larger road use taxes currently collected as gasoline taxes .. ”
        Bill, this is BOTH an incentive to buy EV, AND a disincentive to keep buying ICE, it is not just unfair, it is ALSO an opportunity.
        Two sides to that coin.

    • Now hold up there, not quite an apples to apples if you start at the generator.
      If you start at the generator for EV (actually should start at the fuel source – coal mine, gas well, uranium mine, windmill factory[including the generation supporting it – back to the resource], solar cell [back to the factory…] ), then for the ICE vehicle you should start at the well head and follow it to the tail pipe. Then we have apples to apples comparisons. I don’t think EVs come out very well in that end to end comparison, but I haven’t seen the numbers to say for sure.

      • That’s what I said in the first sentence – only I traced back everything but hydro.
        I don’t think we are actually disagreeing, but total efficiency really does have to include the whole cycle including the difference in making the nickel steel for the ICE verses the mining of rare earths for the electric motor, the lithium or nickel for the battery etc. I think the more extensive the resource train goes the worse it looks for the EV.

      • The owners don’t care about the efficiency fluff, but they’re impressed as hell that they can go hundreds of km on a few bucks.
        This efficiency quibbling is more or less irrelevant as driving EV’s is dirt cheap, and no one cares about people parsing and hair-splitting how and why that is.

  8. Well I have, and I must say that in spite of the low range, I am overall very satisfied with it.
    Due to the good energy economy, it has a driving range from 140 km with modest speed in the summer to about 80 km in the coldest winter months. Those ranges may seem puny, but in my experience, it covers the vast majority of most people’s driving needs.

    BINGO! I would love to have a small electric two door Hatchback essentially a two seat car to zip around town in.

    • Since I can’t afford two cars, I will be forced to stick with one car that can serve in all conditions.

      • Yes – but even if you can afford the cost of the vehicles themselves, having additional vehicles for limited or specialized uses ONLY essentially multiples your insurance costs.
        “Multiple vehicle discounts” on car insurance don’t divide the premium by the number of vehicles, so even if the number of drivers remains the same, adding an “extra” limited/special use vehicle just about multiples your car insurance cost by [cost per vehicle x number of *extra* vehicles].
        Not to mention the insurance cost for EVs will probably begin to climb quickly as the extra risks/costs associated with EVs involved in accidents are reflected in premium rates (i.e., replacement of damaged battery packs, more “totaled” vehicles when they catch fire due to short circuits, etc.).

  9. This analysis seems to forget some important points.
    Before they were demonised, European diesel cars were attaining 40% efficiency, which makes them very economic. I easly get 45 mpg from my large 5-door diesel, in mixed driving, and the new versions of the same car are 15% more efficient than mine.
    Also, this analysis does not take into account the generation of electricity. In the US, coal still supplies 30% of electricity, and gas another 30%. And there are something like 50% in losses just turning that fuel into electricity, let alone all the other losses. In my calculations, diesel cars are 40% efficient, while EV cars are about 35% efficient.
    https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3
    On the positive side, I have been using Tesla taxis in Finland, and they appear quite durable. The interior stays warm from the small heater, despite the -30 oc temperature outside, and the car seems quite reliable. Although the driver has to take a break in mid-shift, to recharge. And since Finland is mainly hydro, you can say that a Tesla is quite environmental there.
    R

    • More and more of our taxis here are electric or hybrid (East Anglia, neighbourhood of Cambridge). I asked one driver about charging: “mainly at home overnight, with a top-up at lunch break.”

    • You can 45mpg (Imperial) from a 10 year old 2.7 litre turbodiesel JAGUAR luxury saloon! That 200bhp of mildly tuned Ford V6 diesel power

  10. Sorry, nothing surprising or persuasive here for me.
    What this article utterly ignores is that I believe 40% of UK households don’t have private parking i.e. a drive, nor garage they can access power from.
    Our streets are lined with vehicles which have no access to electric power unless householders drape cables from their house to their car, across pavements (sidewalks).
    In my case, I would have to accomplish that by draping a cable across two roads and two pavements, as would my neighbours.
    The alternative might be to spend eye watering amounts of money lining streets with, perhaps, pre paid charging points. This, however, exposes cables to vandalism. And what happens when the Sunday visitors drive their EV’s to visit relatives in our street and either find there are no charging points because the residents are all plugged in; or they use the points thereby depriving residents of charging facilities.
    I love the idea of electric cars for all the reasons cited, except the foregoing and the range.
    A trip from the SE of England to Glasgow (around 4 miles or say 650 Km.) takes me around seven hours (it has taken me over twelve thanks to holiday traffic) in an IC engined car. With a modern diesel I can make that journey uninterrupted by fuelling.
    A Nissan Leaf, by all accounts, would have to stop 4.6 times on that journey to re charge (650 Km./140 Km.) assuming I drive at “modest” speeds, and the weather is warm and sunny. And if anyone knows anything about British weather, that’s not too often.
    Now assuming a quick charge takes 30 minutes to achieve a full 140 Km. range (which I doubt) recharging alone would add over two hours to my journey. That’s also assuming there are sufficient charging points, and I can guarantee that during stress times, holiday traffic, hold up’s, road works etc. that just wouldn’t happen.
    I could always take out a second mortgage and buy a Tesla, but that seems a bit extreme.
    And whilst I accept that almost the same arguments were almost certainly made when the IC engine was proposed as a replacement for horse drawn carriages, the motor car could challenge the horse in terms of range with a big enough fuel tank, and the horses charging station (the stable) was eliminated altogether, as was it’s frequent refuelling stops at a convenient grassy field.
    This also exemplifies the stupidity of climate change science itself. Scientists drawing on their own practical experiences of life to dream up ideal scenarios on which to base their experiments, largely ignoring the practical aspects of what they’re studying.
    And I’ll provide one glaring example, Michael Mann’s infamous hockey stick graph. Using a variety of data from different sources, including a single (I believe) tree ring sample, all stitched together by some dubious methods to present his vision of the future, influenced in large part, by his own life experiences and distorted beliefs. Perhaps not a great example of ethical scientists, but perhaps the most extreme example.
    Nor will I go into the sources of power, which are not in evidence in the UK, to energise all the EV’s our government has decreed will be on the road in 2040.
    Sorry, but whilst this article may be largely correct in stating most people’s journeys are easily dealt with by EV’s, that might be, at best, for 60% of car owners.
    What the hell do the rest of us do?
    When EV’s can compete with IC engined vehicles, without government subsidies (don’t get me started on that one either) then I’ll be happy to make the change.

    • And that assumes that there isn’t a queue at the charging station. I’ve never measured it, but my time to fill a tank is probably about 5 minutes. So even if someone is in front of me, that’s maybe 15 minutes to fill the tank. The Leaf in a similar situation would take not 20 minutes but 40. One of the reasons it doesn’t show up is that there are so few EVs using the charging stations.

    • You realise a Nissan Leaf is a city daily commuter vehicle, right? As mentioned up the page, there are Teslas models now that can easily do that same trip without recharging, even if it took 12 hours, many hybrids likewise.

      • WXcycles
        UK Tesla prices START at over £60,000 in the UK.
        My brand new Mercedes E Class estate car cost half that.
        I can buy a VW UP! GTi for £12,000. It might need refuelling once to do the trip to Scotland, and will comfortably cruise at 80mph – 90mph all day long. It’s also tiny so can be used as a daily commuter.
        A Nissan Leaf can be bought for……..wait for it – nearly £30,000! If it can’t do much more than a daily commute, it’s an extremely expensive milk float.
        And whilst both my Mercedes and the VW UP! can be refuelled in about 5 minutes each, I’m one of the unfortunate 40% in the UK with no access to a home charging point for an electric car. The Leaf would be used until the battery went flat, then I have an eye wateringly expensive bit of street furniture.
        As for hybrids, a modest Toyota Prius starts at around £25,000, only £5,000 less than my Maercedes. It solves the problem of charging, but then so does the VW UP! at half the price.

      • @Hotscot
        Ah … but what you convenienly omit is that if you spend just $75 per week to commute, this equates to:
        $75 × 52 = $3,900 /yr
        And over ten years this adds $39,000 to your ICE operating costs.
        An EV’s fuel cost would he a SMALL fraction of that $39,000. Basically the fuel savings alone of operating the EV for 15 years of commuting will finance the purchase of a new EV, at that time.
        Your current cars’ operating fuel savings will not finance their own replacement cost.

  11. You should have spent more time talking about driving cost efficiency rather than thermodynamic efficiency. What drives consumers is cost. On that score, I think electrics do far better, although they aren’t paying any road taxes (yet). The other problem is that the cars most people want to drive here in the US are pickups and SUV’s where there is no real electric option.

    • For me the biggest worry for EV is that eventually the government will be spying on the movements of all citizens through the expediency of taxing their road mileage. No government in today’s world would be able to resist the temptation to make a database and track the movements of all people. Not a problem if the government is about enforcing the freedoms of its people, but too many would see it as a way to totalitarian power. Too many modern politicians and bureaucrats read 1984 as a manual rather than a warning.

      • oh come off it, they can do that with mobiles and smartphones, for the last 35 years. Do you use a phone?
        Yeah, so spare us the hypocritcal BS.

    • Thanks Tom,
      The driving cost depend on government taxes and subsidies, which may change with time.
      I chose to focus on the physics because it tells something fundamental about the technology and that do not change.
      /Jan

  12. I was a fan of rotary motors, and got quite good at rebuilding them. I even learned a few tricks of my own when rebuilding to improve performance. The torque range was quite good up to 7,000 rpm, and the top rpm reached 8,500 rpm with diminishing results from the power band. I had my best rebuild placed in a Mazda P/U with a four speed tranny. I would shift first gear at 45 mph, second gear at 85 mph, and 3rd gear at 115 mph when full on the throttle. Fourth gear would roll at 130 mph. That was a fun little rusty red rat vehicle. I surprised quite a few V-8s with it. I would have liked to experiment further with it, if I ever had the money to try out some of my ideas for redesigning it. That never happened.

  13. It’s refreshing to hear some good things about EVs instead of the usual guilt trip about saving the earth. I’ve also heard they have about 1/10 as many parts as the typical internal combustion car and will put a lot of mechanics into re-training. Back in the day when you had to dispose of your own car battery I remember how hard that was and this worries me a bit when in the future there will be millions of EVs on the road. Are the batteries easily recycled?

      • Hmm, do they ever wear out? My experience with re-cycling is with the old lead-acid car batteries.

      • Grid storage? How silly can you get? I should buy this over-priced EV and then plug it in and don’t drive on cloudy days with winds that are too high or too low? Why don’t you just dictate that everyone spend $50k for at home grid storage?

      • Bob Greene said: “Grid storage? How silly can you get? I should buy this over-priced EV and then plug it in and don’t drive on cloudy days with winds that are too high or too low? Why don’t you just dictate that everyone spend $50k for at home grid storage?
        What Mosher is saying is that at the END of battery life for an EV battery, it can be re-purposed for grid storage. Battery life is 300,000 to 500,000 km for the Tesla, based on field data from current customers.So at the end of the 12-20 year battery life (depending on driving miles and battery life), the car owner can sell the battery to the utility, who would most likely be happy to pick up cheap storage capacity.

      • Battery life is ESTIMATED to be 300,000 – 500,000 km. as no Teslas have been driven that far yet. The only Tesla to travel that distance to date is up in space and it’s battery died not long after it left orbit.
        Batteries can have their recharge capacities degrade suddenly and exponentially.

      • Steven,
        If the batteries are at the end of life, how can they be of any use for grid storage? A flat battery is a flat battery whether it is in a vehicle or a substation.

      • “Battery life is ESTIMATED to be 300,000 – 500,000 km. as no Teslas have been driven that far yet. The only Tesla to travel that distance to date is up in space and it’s battery died not long after it left orbit.
        Batteries can have their recharge capacities degrade suddenly and exponentially.”
        Look at the data I posted. There are already owners who are at 250,000 km, and they are still above 90%. Please post your evidence that Tesla EV batteries catastrophically drop off.

    • I do it all the time, it works great My mower has a pocket for a spare battery depending on conditions I may need to plug the second in to finish it off, change-over takes seconds.

      • Not to mention the reduction in noise, from 95 dB to 75 dB. And no need to drive to the gas station and fill up a gas can and drive it back while worrying about spills or leaks.

    • I used to have a battery powered mower (I moved to a location that provides the mowing so I don’t need one). I had 3 40v batteries that were easy to swap out. With 3 batteries Each battery lasted about 20 minutes so I could mow continuously for a little over an hour more than enough time to mow my lawn without stopping.

    • I have a corded electric mower, 20 years old and still going strong. The cord is a bit of a pain but I’m used to it. The exhaust from gas mower engines consistently gave me migraines, so I switched to electric. Still prefer ICE for my car, though.

    • +1 phil and Chris.
      I do it too, And I am glad I switched away from ICE or plugged-in electric.
      Fuel for ICE was such an hassle. And the noise was awful..
      Plugged-in electric is fine, too, provided you have have easy access to a plug. Which the case for one of my lawn, but not for the other.
      When the batteries (I have 2 of them) are “empty”, it is time to stop mowing, anyway.

    • Sincere apologies Chris, Phil and any that have joined this thread. I failed to appreciate just how fast rechargeable lawnmower technology had moved on. My comment was from experience. Had a rechargeable not so long ago and the battery went flat after every 15 minutes. The prices for rechargeable mowers (compared to petrol) seem competetive too. Thanks.

      • GeeJam, thanks for the follow up. What some EV skeptics may not know is how aggressively the technology is moving forward. Unlike ICEs, where the pace of innovation is somewhat constrained by the basic physics of combustion engines, for batteries lots of different ideas are being tried and many are succeeding.

  14. I own a Renault Zoe. The only ICE car that I would dare compare it to is the Toyota Yaris Hybrid (similar size, similar equipment, and the only close experience to a pure EV is a hybrid, at least you avoid the noise and vibrations in the first meters when accelerating from 0). In this comparison I see that the Zoe is 10,000€ more expensive, and at the ~20,000 km per year that I do it saves me around 1,000€ per year (750 in oil vs electricity prices, and another 250€ yearly average in taxes / maintenance / legal inspections / parking cost reductions). So I need 10 years to recover the investment before it starts to pay off. But in those 10 years I will have exceeded the battery mileage warranty. I may need to change it. Considering that the prices may have gone down to half by then, it would still cost me 4,000€ and yet another 4 years for return of investment. 14 years is a long wait.
    In other words: economically, it doesn’t make sense YET. It is more expensive than the ICE alternatives, even considering what you save in oil, maintenance, taxes, etc. Although not by too much. This said, would I buy it again? NO DOUBT. Because there is no ICE that can provide the same driving experience, and I absolutely love it. And this is just with the small Zoe, I cannot start to imagine what it is to drive a Model S.
    My much more simplified table of “+” versus “-” would be:
    * Driving experience: +++
    * Economics: –
    * Range: ?
    In my case, the limited range doesn’t count because I own another car (ICE) that my wife normally drives and that I can use for the occasional long distance needs (3-4 trips per year at most). Other people may give it a “-“, or “–“, or “—–” based on their real needs, so clearly EVs are not for everybody, but they are quite a good option for some people like me, and an improvement to the health of everyone.

    • I do hope you did not “buy” the Zoe as the depreciation is the worst for any car in the UK.

      • I didn’t buy it with the intention of selling it later. I couldn’t care less about depreciation. In the domestic economy calculations that I do, any car has lost ALL of its value after 10 years. This means I consider it costs me 225€ (27000/120) per month to have the Zoe, or that it loses that value every month. Whatever I can get by selling it after the 10 years, I consider it a present, and any extra time that I keep the car, I have it for free. They are improvements to a situation that I already considered good enough when deciding to buy the car.
        BTW the depreciation you are talking about is for the old model. Who wants a 240km range NEDC when you can have 400km range NEDC with the new model. It is the result of better cars being available, not a problem with the old car itself.

    • I
      ” … In other words: economically, it doesn’t make sense YET. It is more expensive than the ICE alternatives, even considering what you save in oil, maintenance, taxes, etc. … ”

      Yeah, right, I notice you left off the price of GASOLINE each week. What is it, $100 bucks? About $5,000 bucks per year, over say 10 years? Gee, that’s like ~$50,000 dollars in ICE car fuel, alone!
      You must be VERY rich, if you think that’s so incidental that you forgot to mention it. Btw, what dud your car cost? And you’re comfortable with having less money for your family each week, when you could have saved $90 per week, instead.
      You wouldn’t even be able to buy a carton of milk with the power costs of driving to work and back in an EV.

      • WXcycles, I did consider the gasoline. When I said “oil” in the text that you quote I meant gasoil / gasoline. In addition, the actual comparison of fuel expenses vs electricity is totally detailed in my comment, in the paragraph before the one that you decided to quote. The actual “oil” for lubrication that you must have misunderstood from the quoted text, I put it inside the “maintenance” costs that total around 250€ per year on average. And your $100 per week on gasoline are an awesome ammount that, for sure, you will not need with a Toyota Yaris Hybrid, the target of the comparison. Perhaps on a Hummer? I find your understanding pretty limited (“what dud your car cost” >> it’s written right there, “dud”). I won’t waste any more of my time answering to trolls like you that don’t even read what they are supposedly replying to.

      • No it isn’t written right there, I have written several posts on the topic and this one doesn’t have the info. Car costed 27K and I am comparing it to a 17K Yaris Hybrid. Fuel/electricity comparison comes from a cost of 1€/100km to 5,2€/100km. Saves 4,2€/100km or 756€/year for the 18,000 km that I drive yearly.

      • @Nylo
        “The actual “oil” for lubrication that you must have misunderstood from the quoted text, I put it inside the “maintenance” costs that total around 250€ per year on average.”
        —-
        Utter nonsense, you did NOT include the fuel cost at all, and you are not telling the truth either, you omitted the fuel cost altogether.
        And now you want to pretend (laughably) that fuel was included in total maintainence cost, of 250€ per year?
        Bwahahahaha
        Sure mate, I owned a 2012 Prius that cost $44 AUD to travel 450 km, in 2011 dollars (fuel was abour $1.55/ litre at the time). My fuel use was $45 to $55 per week in a very efficient hybyid. Average that out and it’s $50/week.
        $50 x 52 = $2,340 AUD /yr
        And below you even say you drive 18,000 km/yr! Well my Prius then cost bang on $29 per 300 km, so driving it your 18,000 km in a year, equates to:
        (18,000/300)*$29 = $1,740 /yr
        But you now claim ‘oil’ really means ‘fuel’, and your fuel is in total maintainence costs, of a ludicrous 250€ per annum, to take you 18,000 km/yr.
        Bullshit.
        You are tried to create a deception and when I pointed out what you’d done you called me a troll, and lacking in knowledge, to distract from your lies.
        No ‘Nylo’, you clearly did not include fuel cost, you included just the routine servicing costs, at best, and then when caught out, you’ve doubled-down with more absurd lies, and are now directly confronted with the quantitative silliness of your whole absurd claim.
        250€ /yr for 18,000 km travelled.
        Oh yeah, I’m trolling you and my “knowledge” is deficient.
        ROFLMAO

  15. The EV will continue to suffer from battery costs (i dont accept extrapolations which lack a technical basis). It’s reasonable to have an EV with a small butane fueled heater for cold climates, and for American families with two vehicles, it may be useful to have a mini the family can use to commute to work, go to the hardware store for a chainsaw, and short trips like that.

  16. As the article covers, vehicles of the Ev variety have a place – in some peoples minds and hearts. Thats good.
    I too wouldn’t hesitate to own one, IF my life style was such that it suited.
    But that would require a vocation change – an expense I don’t thing I can afford.
    I’m a builder, so a Nissan Leaf may not suit my needs.
    Nor a Tesla – of what ever model.
    Also, I simply cannot afford new vehicles – so right there is a BIG restriction – of buying an already reduced life EV (battery or vehicle).
    I constantly tell my friends who bang on about their super new cordless battery drill, that a real test of just how good it is, would be to let me use it – under normal use (mine) – and see how long it would last – both the drill and the battery.
    Not long I contend.
    Ditto for EV vehicles.
    I think they are great, but if used in the same manner that many/most ICE vehicles DO get used on a daily basis, then their life expectancy would plummet.
    Should we have to alter our life style, work choice and use of the chosen vehicle, just to own an EV?
    Ummm…no!!

    • Agree with your statement!
      The emphasis on EV is towards moving only people in congested cities and urban areas and almost completely ignores those that actually build or feed the people in those areas. I live out in the boonies where a pickup truck (Ute) is mandatory to haul around tools, equipment, animal feed and everything else one could possibly imagine. That Nissan Leaf or any other EV would have one heck of a time hauling a bale of hay out to the middle of a field where there are no roads. And do that day in and day out? Please!

      • Ken
        Sadly, most environmental regulations are determined by city dwellers who wouldn’t know what the countryside was if they tripped over it. Their concept of the countryside is what they see whilst driving along a motorway, or on their Easter break in a stage managed, holiday complex in the ‘countryside’.
        Air quality standards are developed in cities, for cities, yet those who live in the country pay for it. Case in point; London does not have a single functioning power station within the M25 (the motorway that encircles the area commonly referred to as London) instead, it’s power comes from outlying power stations based in? Yep, you guessed it, the countryside.
        Nor does London have any meaningful, unsightly wind turbines, they’re all out at sea. Meanwhile, Scotland’s beautiful countryside is blighted by numerous wind farms with turbines up to 180 M tall sprouting from pristine hillsides, with the area further blighted by access roads, bulldozed transmission line trenches, sub station etc.
        And whilst this video focusses on Loch Ness, Loch Awe and others fare little better.

        Industrial vandalism!

  17. https://wattsupwiththat.com/tips-and-notes/#comment-2790985
    There is an article in tips and notes on spark controlled compression ignition.
    In the featured article much is made of the cost and efficiency improvements in electric vehicles.
    However no mention is made of future improvements in gasoline cars so as to make a valid comparison.
    But for subsidy and mandated construction targets in Europe, most electric cars would not be built.
    There is much said about electric cars being produced in China.
    Recently reading an article in the Pakistani press, Pakistan being a market for them, show them to be narrow golf cart vehicles, not longer range road vehicles for the open highway.
    Pakistan is teetering on a coal fired electricity future, much to be exported to China.
    Much is made of the silent engine, so no exhaust.
    Standing on a curb, about to cross, I was close to being run over by one, due to its silent approach.
    Bikers in Australia intentionally have loud exhausts to give them a barrier zone of noise to make sleepy drivers,with sound deadening interiors and software, listening to music, be aware of their presence.
    Paradoxically electric cars may be saved from mandated noise making, by becoming hybrid, with some sound from an exhaust, especially with a constantly running petrol motor.

    • ‘Automobiles’ in Oakland, Calif. have whistle-tips that can be heard a mile away. Now that is nuisance noise than might benefit hogs riding HOGs.

    • “lewispbuckingham April 25, 2018 at 3:34 am
      Bikers in Australia intentionally have loud exhausts to give them a barrier zone of noise to make sleepy drivers,with sound deadening interiors and software, listening to music, be aware of their presence.”
      Yeah, riders on hogs with no baffles up and down the streets at all hours. I am sure they need the extra noise to tell “sleepy heads” that there is an extra noisy vehicle on the 50-60kph road that one needs to be made aware of. Never mind the b-doubles and other trucks and busses.

  18. A good article pleasingly devoid of the CO2 Meme. However it also omits the fact that the overall efficiency of a system is the multiple of the efficiencies of the constituent parts.
    The 24 KwHrs in his battery was generated by a fossil fuel engine at an efficiency of say 35%? The electric motor then utilises this at say 80%? So the overall efficiency is :
    0.80 x 0.35 = 0.28. ie: a 28% efficiency. So the 80% efficiency is not true. Let’s not argue on the pedantics.
    OK. We can wheel out the wind turbines and solar panels to offset this; but that is an entirely different matter here.
    Otherwise the driving experience seems like a winner and I can see that there is great sense in using these vehicles in towns and for short regular trips where the infrastructure is in place. The Author’s circumstance being a good example. However, for many this is just not an option and certainly not a universal solution to our transport needs.
    Meanwhile, here are my own thoughts:
    1) I have a drawer full of duff rechargeable batteries.
    2) Battery components need to dug out of the ground just like coal and the the political consequences of this are potentially serious, when availability becomes a question.
    3) Electrical fires are dangerous and often sudden.
    4) A flat battery on a motorway in a blizzard induced traffic jam is life threatening.
    5) The mind boggles on the costs of the required infrastructure and the poverty inducing potential in forcing this through via subsidies and legislation.
    6) My own circumstances preclude owning an EV. and my next vehicle will probably be a mobility scooter.
    7) Few people have the knowledge to properly maintain a battery. They can easily be damaged by inadvertent charging mistakes; or by a glitch in the software. We all know that software has glitches from time to time.
    As an aside: In 1948 my father was probably one of the first to use an electric vehicle for commuting purposes. We lived on the southern slopes of Dartmoor and generated our own electricity. He bought a milk float and it was used to transport employees up from the local village, being charged up each day by our trusty diesel. At my age then, I was hard put to swing the hefty flywheel to get it started.

    • Alasdair April 25, 2018 at 3:42 am
      A good article pleasingly devoid of the CO2 Meme. However it also omits the fact that the overall efficiency of a system is the multiple of the efficiencies of the constituent parts.
      The 24 KwHrs in his battery was generated by a fossil fuel engine at an efficiency of say 35%? The electric motor then utilises this at say 80%? So the overall efficiency is :
      0.80 x 0.35 = 0.28. ie: a 28% efficiency. So the 80% efficiency is not true. Let’s not argue on the pedantics.

      The combined cycle natural gas generation (the preferred choice these days) operates at about 60%. So we’re talking about 48% overall efficiency.

    • There was a severe snowstorm with deep snow in the Denver area a couple of years ago and I came upon numerous EVs just abandoned in the middle of the road. I’m not sure why this was the case, low clearance, poor traction dead batteries. Whatever, an ICE vehicle with AWD and high clearance clearly outperformed the EVs in those conditions.

  19. “The noiseless engine let you hear the wind blowing and the birds singing, or you can turn on music and hear it without any disturbing engine in the background.”
    I live in a relatively rural setting, but with some traffic. My experience is that — except for the %&*$* trash trucks (why are they out at 0630?) — modern ICE vehicles with functioning mufflers produce more tire noise than engine noise. I can hear them coming from several hundred yards/meters away. But what I hear is the tires, not the engines. I should think the same would be true for EVs.
    Very few pure EVs in this part of the world. The winters tend to be a bit nippy in Vermont and the waste heat from ICE and hybrids is welcome when it is -25C (-13F) or colder.
    The local supermarket has four EV charging stations, but I’ve never seen anyone actually using them.

  20. In the foreseeable future, the sale of electric cars will not increase. Apart from the unpredictability of battery life, the risk of fire in the event of an accident, the long charging time and the expensive purchase price, there is a particularly lack of capacity for recharging.
    Also electric power is finite and more does not flow through our wires. Even if the power station capacity were increased tenfold, there would not be any more power flowing through a power cable. The network capacity is strongly limited by the physics, even in Germany, which compared to the ancient American network has a much more modern power grid.
    So -EVs nope. They are a dead evolution in engine technology. What did someone call this: a niche technology for affable eco-freaks.

    • The world’s automakers are not listening to you, they are massively scaling up EV production. The words “dead evolution” – what does that mean?

      • “Dead evolution” is a synonym for “no evolution” ore “pushed evolution” which is another term for zombie evolution (resurrection of the dead).

      • Fascinating how companies responding to government mandates is proof that the consumers want electrics.

      • MarkW
        “Fascinating how companies responding to government mandates is proof that the consumers want electrics.”
        Not too fascinating when taxpayer subsidies are dangled as the carrot.

      • Hans-Georg,
        Rubbish statement. You might not agree with EVs, but there is a huge amount of innovation going on – in battery technology, recharging, electric motors, among others.

  21. “The prices of Li-ion batteries have dropped considerably recent years and the drop is projected to continue. How fast the prices drop can be debated, but approximately 14% annually, as is described in this article, is a conservative bet.”
    Only time will show, but having spent the last 10 or so years working on mathematical models and estimates in relation to M&A (with a formal background in physics) I do not trust these kind of extrapolated figures, particularly not from a source heavily biased in climate religion (Nature Climate Change), and I am very skeptical to this 14% geometric progression.
    One trusted source in areas like this in my business is Deutsche Bank’s predictions. According to their latest Litium battery report (https://www.slideshare.net/stockshaman/deutsche-bank-lithium-report-may-2016), figure 13, page 9, the cost of lithium carbonate batteries are expected to fall only slightly in the next few years, then to increase to approximately the same levels as today in the end of the forecast period (2026).
    Unfortunately battery technology resembles fusion in the respect that a breakthrough has “always” been expected in the very near future.

    • Beat me to it RPT. I wonder if folks that claim that prices always decrease have ever had to design a product and sell it. If all techo prices keep decreasing, we would all be driving $500 cars and using $50 mobile phones. Technology just doesn’t work that way, and I’ve lost count of the number of battery breakthroughs that have been publicised but never seem to make it to market.

  22. So your Leaf is more efficient than my Shelby GT350. That is important why?
    ‘The noiseless engine let you hear the wind blowing and the birds singing’
    Up to 20 mph. Then wind and tire noise make it sound like any other car. That electric cars are silent is true only at low speeds.
    ‘Noiseless’ is a bug, not a feature. My Shelby GT350 makes the most beautiful sounds. Many people tell me so.

    • And I will here your Shelby (plus I would much rather see your Shelby then his Leaf) coming when I try to cross the parking lot, not so much the Leaf in fact in many places they are requiring devices on the cars so they make noise just for this reason.

  23. Tesla makes an excellent luxury car, independent of its drive train. Making Leaf/Tesla comparisons silly. Depreciation of the Leaf is catastrophic. Tesla depreciation is actually low.

    • Up until recently, Tesla had a guaranteed buy back program for used Tesla’s which distorted their resale value.

    • RE Tesla depreciation …. low my **%$
      Make Avg Price Last 30 Days Last 90 Days YoY
      2012 Tesla Model S $41,058 -7.72% +3.86% -18.63%
      2013 Tesla Model S $44,159 -3.12% +3.68% -13.61%
      2014 Tesla Model S $53,934 -2.57% +8.33% -6.21%
      2015 Tesla Model S $61,550 -7.55% +7.01% -17.13%
      2016 Tesla Model S $72,850 -8.68% +0.20% -15.69%
      2017 Tesla Model S $86,727 -0.02% -2.02% +18.80%
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      • Have you considered that high demand and scarcity drives the price up, until the stimlation of greater production volumes, due that demand and money flood, produces an oversupply, and price then drops to sell the excess production?
        Teslas are expensive for the same reason hybrids are, people love them, so the excess demand bids up the price.
        More production volume is expensive, it is a long term investment, and needs to be paid for. Once the factory is paid for the price of what you make can drop.
        The same thing occurred with the ramping of hybrid production. They could sell them faster than they could make them, so could ask a higher price, and the subsidy covered the difference.
        Remove the subsidies and the price will fall to meet demand again.

  24. Lithium is a limited resource. Current usage gives us about 300 years worth! Extrapolate and …… oh dear we need something else!

    • It’s being worked-on – a plastic battery technology that holds ~twice what a Li battery does, and charges insanely fast. Will we ever see it? – who knows, but better batteries are always in the offing. A friend’s brother-in-law works in the battery industry, and said 30 years ago that they could make a lithium battery the size of a coke can that could power an electric motorcycle – and would have the explosive power of a half-stick of dynamite, and frequently would explode. Energy density is energy density, however you do it.
      I agree with the author’s position that for some situations an electric vehicle is ideal. For mine, it isn’t – a 1,200-mile road trip in 18 hours with two tons of trailer on the back is something my diesel does with ease. Full-sized diesel trucks, notably the { – brand-name withheld – } Eco-diesel, do highways lightly-loaded at 40+ mpg; a friend has one. Electrics are not practical for fast long-distance travel, especially in the winter. And having destroyed two electronic devices in my comparatively mild winter by leaving them in the car, I can attest that lithium batteries don’t like sub-freezing temperatures – of course the battery could have a self-heating circuit, for as long as it could power it, but don’t leave it parked for a month or even a week.
      The article’s plot of comparative efficiencies is skewed and incomplete – modern steam powerplants exceed 50% efficiency, and diesels are not mentioned. One of the Asian car-makers is on the verge of offering a gasoline engine that runs like a diesel – homogenous charge compression ignition, recently announced. ICE efficiencies are improving all the time as well, and have doubled in the last 30 years as digital engine controls have improved.
      Finally, the article claims that electric efficiencies are why locomotives are commonly diesel-electric; this is inaccurate. Geared transmissions are even more efficient than electric motors, it’s just that nobody has yet figured-out how to do it with the enormous gears that would be required at those power levels – there are also diesel-hydraulic locomotives. And undeniably, the electric motor has monstrous starting torque, which is where a locomotive does its hardest work.

    • 300 years with current usage but if every US vehicle were electric, usage would jump 300 fold and lithium would last 1 year

      • usage would jump 300 fold and lithium would last 1 year

        Litium last forever. The planet has just as much litium now as it had a billion year ago.
        We can therefore recycle it forever.
        The 300 years is known resorces, more will be found if we look.
        /Jan

    • Oh yeah, it’s not like we’ll develop a vastly better battery technology in a mere 300 years of R&D.

  25. Many of the advances in conventional cars have come from motor racing. When electric cars move out of the special Formula E class and start to compete in such events as the Daytona 500, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, Le Mans or the Safari Rally, I will not be convinced of their overall efficiency.

    • That won’t happen until somebody invents a way to swap a battery pack as quickly as they can currently refill the tank.

      • As long as the design of the vehicle places the battery pack in an easily accessible location, it should take hardly any time to yank out the current pack and plug in a new one. So shouldn’t be that hard to invent. The bigger problem is having a battery pack that provides the amount of energy needed without having to swap any more often than they currently need to refill the tank. Every stop, no matter how quickly the mechanics do their thing, costs the driver time in the race.

  26. No subsidies no issue!
    In a free market you can choose what fits best for you and you don’t have to justify your decision to anyone but yourself as long as it fits your needs and priorities more power to you. The issue comes when the government uses a non-existent crisis to use tax dollars to subsidies a market and give it advantage over another to push a political narrative and or to enrich friends and cronies.

  27. Why were the inefficiencies of the electrical grid that you charge an EV from ignored? 7% just for grid. Gas Turbine efficiency is about 60%. 40% from coal. And no, renewables are a sham unless you are charging at home using your own solar power.
    At the end of the day, Electric vehicles are no more efficient than gas vehicles.
    I like the idea of them, from a torque perspective.

      • That will increase if they increase electricity demand by electrifying their transportation fleet.

      • If all the approximately 3 million cars in Norway were replaced by EV, we would need about 12 TWh more annually, i.e. increasing the electricity production from 150 TWh to 162 TWh.
        I think it is room for that with additional hydro and wind.
        /Jan

      • JKA: Norwegian electricity production would only need to increase from 150 to 162 TWH to support all EVs? Like to see your calculations for that. A recent calculation on this site for the U.S. said a 125% increase would be required, and a similar calculation for Australia on the JoNova website said a 132% increase is required.

      • Graeme,

        Norwegian electricity production would only need to increase from 150 to 162 TWH to support all EVs? Like to see your calculations for that. A recent calculation on this site for the U.S. said a 125% increase would be required,

        We have 3 million cars in Norway.
        Back of the envelope calculations:
        Assuming each car travel 20 000 km annually and use 0.2 kWh per km gives 12 TWh
        (20 000 km is probably too much though, so the need is probably lower.)
        Norwegian Electricity production is 150 TWh annually.
        I have calculated for the US here:
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/04/25/a-positive-perspective-on-electric-vehicles/#comment-2799946

      • Jan,
        Firstly apologies for mis-quoting David Middleton’s recent figure of 25% extra requirements as 125%.
        However, I still think both David and you are calculating the additional power required wrongly. You both appear to use average figures, whereas the recent Australian calculation by “James” in JoNova on March 29 uses the TOTAL fuel consumption for one year that would have to be supported by additional power for EVs. James’ calculation thus arrives at a vastly different, and I believe more accurate, way of determining the power requirement. James’ figures were a total of 32,732 million litres of fuel consumed in Australia in 2016, or 174,618 GWh of petrol and 157,600 GWh of diesel. This total of 332,218 GWh significantly exceeds Australia’s annual total electricity usage of 252,000 GWh, so if all vehicles were EVs, the power requirements go up by 132%.

      • Energy is generally not the issue. Power is. Power requires investment in the grid, in Norway this is a real problem. And it is costly.

      • Graeme said:

        “James” in JoNova on March 29 uses the TOTAL fuel consumption for one year that would have to be supported by additional power for EVs.

        I looked up James comment in Jonova here: http://joannenova.com.au/2018/03/another-way-to-destroy-a-grid-add-a-million-electric-vehicles/#comment-1994089
        Ha makes a grave error because he convert the energy content in petrol and diesel to kWh without taking the much better energy effiency of EV into account.
        The correct number is only a quarter of James calculation.
        /Jan

    • If you live in a cold climate and have to heat anyway, cogeneration makes sense. Then the fuel cost of your electricity is zero. The capital cost has to be reckoned with. Compared with my old, low efficiency, cheap furnace, the cost of cogeneration is astronomical. Compared with my new high efficiency furnace (mandated by law) the cost of cogeneration is not quite as crazy.
      It’s not hard to imagine a situation (some time in the future) where heating your house and driving an electric vehicle is the most economical use of fuel.

  28. Thanks for the article. I do not think many/most people need to be convinced about electric cars; since my childhood it generally has been a constant wish.
    Regarding efficiency: I saw no mention of the weight of the batteries. How does this compare with weight of motor fuel in ICE vehicles and affect efficiency?
    As for cost. If the current energy used to provide electrical energy in the USA is X, with what factor will X need to be multiplied to replace all or most of the energy from motor fuel with electricity?
    What then will be the cost to do this taking into account the enormous increase in number and capacity of generating stations (of whatever type) to provide the increased output, the significant extension of grid infrastructure to handle the load, and distribution infrastructure to serve the various charging points?
    Is using current prices of electricity a fair comparison with ICE costs?
    The British Government when settling its energy policy (such as it is) on wind power, assumed that although electricity prices would rise significantly, the price of oil would hurtle every skyward so that wind generated power would be very expensive, but still cheaper than fossil fuel generated electricity… and so people would not notice.
    They were wrong. Fossil fuel prices have significantly fallen, yet electricity prices in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe outside nuclear France, climb steadily upward as more and more wind and solar are added to the mix.

    • with what factor will X need to be multiplied to replace all or most of the energy from motor fuel with electricity?
      ==========
      A gal of gasoline is 33 kWh. About the same price at the gas station or the power company depending where you live.
      A car averages 30 miles per day. About 2 gallons of gasoline a day. A house uses about 1 gal of gasoline equivalent a day.
      So depending upon EV efficiency you are going to have to double or triple existing generating capacity. Given the time and capital expenditure involved to build the current grid this is going to be a problem unless there is spare capacity due to time of day factors.

      • “A car averages 30 miles per day. About 2 gallons of gasoline a day. A house uses about 1 gal of gasoline equivalent a day.”
        if your car is using 2 gallons for only 30 miles (ie a rather poor 15 miles/gal), I’d suggest trading it in for a newer car. Most ICE cars made today easily double or triple that value.

  29. Great article. It fails to capture the true cost of fueling an EV compared to a ICE. Perhaps in areas like Europe and maybe even California, where taxes make up the bulk of fuel costs, but for most of the world it costs more per mile to operate an EV and usually by a factor of two or more. Depreciation and battery costs not withstanding, the main benefit to the author is quiet motoring and that is not a benefit in my book. I enjoy rev matching snarls. That said, if BMW can pipe it in why can’t Tesla synch any motor soundtrack?

  30. The article mentioned that rail locomotives use diesel-electric instead of diesel mechanical. I understand that the electric motors can be reversed into generators for braking, with the energy dumped through massive radiators on the top of the locomotive. This is a major advantage of the diesel-electric configuration.

    • Dumping energy is not an advantage.
      In 100% electric systems the energy can be returned to the grid or to a battery and that is an advantage.
      You might ask, why not just run straight diesel with a mechanical drive, like trucks and cars? There are a number of reasons. link It depends on operating conditions. Ships use mechanical drive to the propellers. Draglines use electric drive. One big deal with trains is that you can hook together as many diesel-electric locomotives as you want. You can even have locomotives in the middle of the train. Electric drive is relatively easy to control and electric motors ‘play well’ with each other.

      • Yes regenerative braking is a major part of the improved efficiency of hybrids, also allows the IC engine to spend more time operating at its ‘sweet spot’.

  31. charging at home is fine if you have off road parking or better still a garage. I contend that the great majority of cars in the UK are parked on the road overnight. It sounds like an EV would suit me fine except I’m not sure if it can tow a 500kg trailer too, maybe some time in the future…

  32. Re compression ratios: diesel compression ratios had decreased over time to achieve cleaner combustion, while gasoline has increased. The latest Mazda’s skyactiv engines have a ratio of 14:1 for both diesel and gasoline. Racing engines reach higher compression but they sacrifice the idle mode.
    Not that compression ratios will learn us much about the future of engines though.

  33. The elephant in the room is how we propose to generate the electric power. Eventually mainly from the atom or we will have become a stupid species. How ridiculous it would be if we made such superb economies and convenience in the car but at the same time disco-balled the earth with solar panels or tufted it with sea to sea wind mills? And this is environmentalists’ thinking in our post normal world.
    Henry Ford made a few electric cars in the early 20th Century and felt it was the ultimate car. The battery was the problem for a century.

  34. The ICE is not done yet. There has been notable advances in efficiency and I suspect more is on the way. Compression ratios have increased to 14:1. Nissan has introduced a variable compression ratio engine. Toyota claims a 41% overall efficiency for the latest 4 cylinder engine plus CVT. On top of that lithium batteries suck when the temp drops. The new Mazda power plants have supposedly reach the holy grail of combustion engineering: gasoline compression ignition.

  35. Well, I’ve owned an e-Golf for three years in Iceland now, and I’m never buying anything that runs on fluids if I can help it. We also have a Honda Accord, and it literally feels like driving a tractor in comparison: unresponsive, powerless, and it frankly smells. I am currently waiting for an “affordable” SUV-ish EV that has great range (400-500 km), and comfortably fits five people and luggage. As Tesla doesn’t have a presence here, I’m waiting on one of the “usual” producers, so that we have local service. Hoping it’s no more than 2-3 more years? Then it’s goodbye ICE world! 🙂

  36. Eco-fools seem to think batteries make electricity, they don’t batteries need to be charged and their charge/discharge efficiency is not 100%, the electricity needs to be generated and no method is 100% efficient. But regardless the ‘energy efficiency’ argument is a diversion, what matters is the cost; cost to the user and cost to the environment and eco-fools always seem to forget the environmental cost of lithium mining, the $ cost of connecting wind-mills to the grid, the CO2 cost of all that concrete the windmills sit in, the energy cost associated with PV manufacture. Anyone can pick and choose certain ‘facts’ to suit their particular world-view but when you look at the details the eco-fool solutions are never what they seem.
    Honestly efficiency doesn’t matter if the fuel is cheap enough and the main by-products are water and plant-food.

  37. Informative article. The 0.7 gal gasoline equivalent batter is the EV killer.
    Fill the battery 1000 times which is about the Li lifetime and you get 700 gal gasoline equivalent. At $ 3 gal gasoline that is about $ 2100 gasoline but the battery costs $ 10000!!
    So the battery costs much more that ALL the energy it can store in its lifetime. The battery is lîke a very heavy solid gold gas tank that holds almost no fuel and turns to lead once it is installed in the car.

  38. I’d have liked more information on the use or expensive materials including rare earths in the manufacture and the environmental costs of battery production and disposal.
    If it eventually turns out that fossil fuels are not such a ‘bad’ resource as often stated then the electric vehicle option could be worse for the planet.

  39. Several obsolete figures in the article – the author apparently is not well acquainted on the current EV scene. For example:
    “The warranty for most EVs batteries today is that there shall be at least 70% capacity left after 8 years or 160 000 km (100 000 miles).” A recent survey found that Tesla vehicles with 160,000 miles still retained 90% of battery capacity. Battery lifespans are typically over 15 years.
    “The battery pack is the most expensive item in an electric vehicle. The current cost is approximately 300 USD/KWh ” Last year Tesla claimed a price of $190 per kWhr and GM claimed $150 per kWhr. GM’s CEO also claimed prices will be significantly less than $100 per kWhr in the next few years.
    As far as replacement of batteries – that is unlikely to happen – the batteries shoudoutlast the vehicle, but
    if they do need replacement years down the road, the costs will be far less than they are today.
    “Personally, I do not use more time on supercharger stations than I used to use on gasoline stations. The reason is that I charge at home, and do not use supercharger stations more than approximately 10 times per year. I may stay there 20 minutes each time”
    There are many people out there who have no means of recharging their car at home – apartment and townhouse dwellers, condos, etc. and they have no choice but to always use public fast chargers. Tesla’s Supercharger networks ajoke – the stations are sparsely located – often 50 miles apart, and Tesla cannot expand the network , for lack of funds. so now Tesla is desperately trying to join CCS neetworks- in Euopre they have applied for inclusion in the IONITY network, set up by Euro automakers BMW, Mercedes, VW and Ford. They use the de Facto worldwide charging protocol, CCS (SAE Combo) which uses 350KW chargers, as opposed to the half as fast Tesla Superchargers (140KW). IONITY has contracted with three gas stations networks (including Shell) and is adding three more. The chargers will be located in gas stations, the obvious locations for fast public chargers. VW is installing 350KW CCS chargers in Walmart and Target stores – they can recharge to 80% inless than 15 minutes. Royal Dutch Shell bought a charger company. EvGo is installing CCS charger coast to coast. Porsche is installing 500 CCS chargers in the U.S. – 200 of them at Porsche dealerships. CCS public chargers will have to service the 120+ new electric models coming from the world’s automakers over the next several years. They will be located everywhere – mostly in gas stations, the most economically efficinet method.
    Public charging costs a lot more than charging at home and Tesla recently increased the prices at their (soon-to-be-obsolete) Supercharger stations. Some charge 24 cents per kWhr, twice the national residential rate. The issue of energy efficiency is irelevant – the cost of fuel is what matters, and on the basis of residential electric costs, the EVs cost a lot less to fuel. But if public charging stations are used, the fuel cost differences between a gas powered vehicle and an EV are not great, and sometimes the EV costs more to fuel. Public charging rates vary rather widely, more so than gasoline prices.
    As for operating costs, right now gas powered cars pay road taxes (in the price of gasoline – roughly 50 cents per galon as I recall) ) while electric cars generally do not. Any cost comparison will have to take account of the road taxes that electric cars will HAVE to pay in the near future. Annual odometer mileages will be used to determine how much taxes EV owners must pay.

  40. You discuss diesel engines and petrol/gasoline engines being limited by auto-ignition issues.
    A new generation of truck engines that burn LNG is just becoming commercially available:
    http://www.westport.com/is/core-technologies/hpdi-2
    https://www.dieselnet.com/news/2017/10volvo.php
    Natural gas does not readily auto-ignite even at high compression ratios. With LNG fueled engines you can just keep dumping fuel in the cylinder as far as I know.
    The 2018 generation of new LNG engines still use diesel like compression ratios, but there is no fundamental reason to do so as far as I know.
    Regardless, it is my understanding these new engines will have much better low rpm torque because additional fuel can simply be injected without auto-ignition concerns.
    And future designs have the ability to significantly further improve efficiency by venturing into higher compression designs.

    • NOx is produced in the engine as a function of peak temperatures. An LNG or Hydrogen fuelled engine will produce the same amount of NOx as a petrol engine at the same compression ratio. Though higher compression ratios are higher efficiency, it’s the NOx production that limits the compression ratio.

  41. Thanks for many insightful comments
    Many have asked why I have not included the loss in electricity generation and electricity transmission. It is a reasonable question because if we base the electricity production on coal or gas, we get only a fraction of the efficiency in the first place.
    However, to be fair you then also have to take into account the loss on the oil exploration, extraction at the wells, transport to refineries, loss in the oil refineries and finally transport to the gas station. There are quite huge losses in several of these steps.
    It is possible to make a comparison that way, but it is not actually so meaningful because we seldom burn oil in power plants, oil is too expensive for that.
    The fuel used for electricity generation cannot easily be used to directly power a car.
    Therefore, I think it is relevant to compare the energy effiency from the gas station/ charging station.

    • That’s like saying —- “Look, over there, a squirrel! I don’t see the elephant, just maybe a shadow.”
      Anyway, nice post on the good aspects of an EV that would suit some users. But there is still a herd of elephants in the room that you have missed. Sometimes they can be hard to see, or miss.

    • RE: Therefore, I think it is relevant to compare the energy effiency from the gas station/ charging station.
      From the standpoint of the individual user/owner, that is certainly true. However, EVs are being promoted mostly as a “green” solution globally and being subsidized heavily for that reason. In that broader picture, things are less rosy and I contend that, if all the energy and cost required to deploy the EV on the massive scale that the ICE has already been deployed are considered, it is not nearly as “green” as most seem to think. If even 50% of current ICE vehicles were replaced with EVs the amount of additional base load generating capacity required to keep them on the road would be enormous and the additional transmission line capacity and transformers and other infrastructure required is mind boggling. As an example, a typical home has a 200 amp service, which is about 44kW. So to charge your car with 22kWh in 30 minutes would require the ENTIRE capacity of that home electrical service. The typical city service station probably has something like a 500 amp service and normally uses only a fraction of that load. It’s not uncommon to see 4 or 5 vehicles at a time lined up fueling. Even with many customers charging at home the shorter range and longer time spent charging will probably mean 4 or 5 EVs charging simultaneously frequently. That amounts to 220kW or 1000amps for a standard 220 Volt service. That means each station will have to completely rewire (not cheap) with a very high capacity service and more than a few of these stations in any area will require extensive rebuilding of lines and substations. That or only deploy 1 or 2 charge stations and require customers to wait 30 minutes for the previous client to finish. I lived through the gas lines in the US during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when that happened a lot, and I do NOT recommend going back to it. Even if most charged at home overnight, in LA there are over 6 million Total Vehicles. If half were EVs charging at a slow 2–3 kW each for 10 hours that would be 3gW, or 30% more than the entire output of Hoover dam.

      • Thank you Bill, you are right that quick charging can be challenging, but most of the charging is slow charging in the nighttime when the power is cheap, and demand is low.
        The total amount of extra power is not overwhelming.
        Let us calculate it for the US:
        Americans drive 13 000 km annually per capita. http://internationalcomparisons.org/environment/transportation.html
        I we multiply with 320 million people and 0.2 kWh per km we get 832 TWh.
        That is a 20% increase from the current production of 4000 TWh annually.
        I do not think that is such a dramatic increase for converting all ICE to EV.
        A bonus is that we would also save a lot in power to refineries and oil transport.
        /Jan

      • Jan, 20% may not sound too difficult, but that 832TWh/year is greater than the output of all 99 commercial reactors in the US combined, or 3.7 times the total of all wind power generated in the USA or more than 3 times the total hydro power in the US. It’s also about a third more than the entire usage of Canada. It’s a major infrastructure investment by any standard.
        http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/usa-nuclear-power.aspx

      • All numbers are relative. I not saying that it is not big, but we are also talking about a major change in the society, replacing all fuel car with electric.
        It is possible to generate the power with 80 new nuclear power stations or some massive investments in renewables and pumped storage hydropower.
        But it will create a surplus of oil in the US that will improve the US trade balance substantially
        /Jan

      • JKA: Think I can now see where your energy increase calculations are wrong. I believe that you need to look at the total energy consumed by today’s light (and heavy?) vehicles, and the need to replicate that energy for EVs. Ok, efficiency needs to be involved, but I still believe that your energy increase calcs are way off the mark.

  42. The conversation is interesting, but the bottom line is this. I will buy an electric vehicle when I can expect the same performance out of an EV that I get out of a gasoline Vehicle (my Subaru Forester currently). That is 360 miles on a tank, with the air conditioner running full blast, in all wheel drive, with 4 people and luggage in the car. Until EV’s can do that, and recharge for another 360 miles or so in an hour, they are not going anywhere much.

  43. one thing I notice, all advocates of EV never test in real world conditions in states like mine where for many months we can have well below zero F temps.

  44. Everything about EV is fantastic.
    Apart from the battery that is
    heavy for the range
    slow to recharge
    limited lifetime (well below the motor)
    expensive.
    As far as lifetime goes 500 charge cycles of say 200 miles each is probably the best you can expect – so 100,000 miles before you need serious cash spent on a new one.
    And no, they wont be worth recycling into grid storage.
    Massive experience with abusing lithium batteries to the limit in RC models shows that you can probably fully recharge – with cooling – in 5 minutes, or you can achieve phenomenal discharge rates – 1 minute or less for serious peak power..or you can achieve multi year lifetimes…BUT NOT ALL TOGETHER.
    And they are STILL too heavy for what they hold in terms of storage.
    EVS do will a niche market – the second urban commuters car or school run for the well heeled with off road parking or as shuttles to and from airports and railways stations.
    But they cant replace long hails stuff yet by a huge margin and no battery technology event theoretically exists that will make them.
    They are supported entirely by subsidy and tax breaks. In the UK fuel is around 12.5p /KWh of which 80% is tax. at a vehicle efficeint of half that of electric, that puts a fule car about 50%-100% more costly per mile..because of TAX.
    Domestic electricity is already above that due mainly to renewable idiocy. If people stopped buying fuel then taxes would have to be collected elsewhere.
    EVs have their place, but in the limit unless lithium air technology can be made to work, it will never be a total replacement for fuel power in all road transport, let alone ships and planes…

  45. “A frictionless electric engine has a theoretical efficiency of 100%.”
    Right off the bat, the author has proven that he doesn’t have a clue about the subject.
    He completely ignores resistance. He also is assuming that he only has to worry about the efficiency of the motor. He’s ignoring the losses in the battery charger, the losses in charging the battery, the losses in discharging the battery, the losses in regulating the power going into the motor, the losses in transmission of the power, and the inefficiencies in the power plant that generates the power.

    • Wow, so do you mean that it is only 95%? That makes the 41% eficiency of the best ICE in the market clearly the winner… or maybe not.

      • You get more than a 10% loss from the power distribution system alone. Then at best 90% efficiency in each of your charging and discharging cycles. You also assume that power generation is nearly 100% efficient.

  46. Pity the author does not indicate if his electric car is powered by coal diesel, gas, wind or nuclear.

  47. Hi, firstly a small “misprint” in the text. It is a convention in metric system to express units named after influential scientists in capital letters. So for instance volt as “V”, ampere as “A” and so on. Since “kilo” is a multiplier, hence not named after anybody, it is always written in lower case as “k”. Therefore, kilowatt will be “kW” and kilowatthour “kWh”. Secondly, I have never heard anyone mention heating, when talking about electric vehicles. It is, as many will no doubt agree, quite unpleasant experience to drive a car in cold weather without heating. If the Earth is going to cool down, as many scientists are predicting, (whether it will just cool down, or enter full blown Mini Ice Age) we will need some form of heating in cars, so what are we going to do? Cars will have to be most probably fitted with petrol or LPG burners, which means burning fossil fuels (oh no!!). So much for saving the planet…

    • Hi Ladislav, thank you for the correct observation of the misprint.
      Concerning the heating, an electric heat pump is used to minimize the power use. You get about 3 times as much heat as electric power from a heat pump.

  48. “The Diesel cycle is less efficient than the Otto cycle when using the same compression ratio, but this is more than compensated by the higher compression ratio. Diesel engines therefore have slightly higher efficiency than gasoline engines.”
    I note a few problems with the analysis. I’ll start with one piece of important information that must be added.
    In addition to favorable higher compression ratio, the diesel cycle becomes more efficient than the otto cycle at part load, where most engines operate in every day driving, because throttling is not necessary with the diesel engine at any load. Otto cycle losses increase as load decreases (think slower speed driving) because of increased throttling requirement.

    • There are three reasons why Diesel cycle engines are more efficient than spark ignition engines. First, as you point out, there is no throttle plate therefore no pumping losses across the throttle plate. (For you nerds out there, Power (W) equals Vdot (m^3/sec) delta P (pascals)). Second, the compression ratio is higher and the efficiency goes with the 3/2 power of the compression ratio. The third reason is an artifact of the density of the fuel. It weighs more than gasoline per gallon, which more than offsets its lower heat of combustion.

  49. I don’t know. People talk a lot as if they knew, and they know even fewer than I do.
    Just tax EV the very same as ICE, and let the better system win. Could be EV. Or ICE. Or something else (steam, compressed air, external combustion engine, cable car, gyroscopic storage, or whatever…). Or some “hybrid”.
    I think I don’t need to worry at all. My next car… well, I won’t have a next car, I guess. Autonomous long range “taxi” will be cheaper than a car (or a bus or train ride) before my current car has to be dumped. We shall see anyway.

  50. Just a quick point when people speak about battery life and compare it with gasoline cars. I would like to point out that a cars engine is not damaged that much when it is not being used stored up in a garage. A battery will decay over time as well. So A 17 year old car with about 150K miles can run fine, but I doubt a 17 year old Tesla with 150K miles would have a good battery left. Most electric cars have not reached that point of age yet, but that will be a thing talked about in the near future.

    • I watch car restoration shows on TV. I’m always amazed when they pull a 1930 xyz out of some farmers barn where it has sat unused for the past 40 years. Clean up the ignition. Fuel, oil and water and 9 times out of 10 the car starts and runs. The 1 time it doesn’t the engine was likely the reason it ended up in the barn to start with

    • I watch car restoration shows on TV. I’m always amazed when they pull a 1930 xyz out of some farmers barn where it has sat unused for the past 40 years. Clean up the ignition. Fuel, oil and water and 9 times out of 10 the car starts and runs. The 1 time it doesn’t the engine was likely the reason it ended up in the barn to start with

  51. We have a gasoline smart car we tow behind the RV. Very handy. Weighs 1800 pounds with a 300 mile range. Price was $ 12000 US. Tows flat.
    Compare this with the electric smart that replaces it. $ 25000 purchase. Might get $ 7500 in rebates. Weight 2500 pounds. 50% more.1 not good for towing.
    But the real problem is range. 60 miles. That is 30 out, 30 back with a full battery. This is completely impractical as a dinghy for the RV as it forces you to park the RV within 30 miles of anywhere you want to visit.

  52. IMHO if someone wants an electric vehicle, go for it. Doesn’t make any difference to me….

    • And the $10,000 in tax gimmies that they get? I pay lots of taxes so they can be smug.

      • Not to mention operating subsidies such as not paying fuel taxes to pay for road maintenance, and not having to pay tolls, etc.

  53. Just about every fallacy and useless exaggeration that can be mustered to justify BEVs is in this article, and I have to go run errands so I will only mention one.
    The efficiency comparison between BEVs and ICEVs simply ignores the fact that the electricity comes from somewhere. Most of comes from heat engines far away. A true efficiency analysis must begin with the electric generator. I do not have the time to produce detailed calculations, but if we start there, and include all losses in transmission and distribution, the efficiency advantage for BEVs melts.

  54. Just under 30% of UK housing stock is Terraced housing. Exactly where are you going to put the charge point? Outside, so the kids have a new game of “Un-plug as many EVs in minute as you can”? Overhead, so every house has a “gallows” over the front door, with fine copper cabling for our Romany friends? Maybe we dig up 30% of our housing streets and put induction coils under them? If ICE are to be phased out, what are 30% of the properties to do? My house with Teens in it has 4 cars, 6 if we have visitors, more if we have a party. I suspect we would all like to drive EVs, but they are simply impractical and too expensive, let alone upgrading our power generation/distribution infrastructure,
    RS

  55. It’s a religion.
    This heavily biased article ignores all EV downsides while stressing combustion vehicle negatives.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    My experience so far have made me to be an enthusiastic EV supporter, not because I think I save the planet, but because I find the EV much more enjoyable to drive.

    Nice opinion, zero facts, and quite a few fact avoidance sophistry statements.
    Note the insistence that EV’s are silent, absolutely silent.
    A claim that ranks up there with “new car smell” claims.
    A) The author uses EV’s separation from the physical electricity generation forces to imply EVs are absolutely silent. Allegedly because he can hear birds sing, winds blowing and his radio.
    Birds singing? While driving down the road in an EV? Or is that parked, with the windows open?
    Winds blowing? Wind noise, just like every vehicle produces as it speeds down a road? Phhfft!
    Radio? How odd! Most reasonably modern vehicles, even the cheapest, are sufficiently quiet to easily hear and enjoy any radio. Plus, they have been for over thirty years.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    Efficiency of combustion engines – theoretical limits

    This is a classic strawman diversion.
    Author focuses on critiquing and demonizing combustion engine efficiency, but fails to apply similar standards to his preferred vehicles.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    So how does this compare to the efficiency in an EV?

    N.B. Jan’s EV on a pedestal advocacy; where EV efficiency is based on narrow EV strengths against overall internal combustion application.
    EV motor efficiency is shown as isolated standalone motors, while internal combustion engines are rated by gross efficiency; i.e. the engine moving several tons of machine and humans.
    e.g. My table saw uses a 1 horsepower electric motor to power the saw. That rating is the motor running alone, unconnected.
    Installed into the saw, that 1hp is most efficient when the motor is running at 1750RPM. Only, while sawing hardwoods, the motor dogs and may trip the breaker when the motor tries to pull more amperage than my circuit carries or is designed to carry.
    That table saw electric motor is not running at stated efficiency levels. Nor can it. Which is why wood workers look to upgrade their motors to maximize smooth running and smooth cuts.
    By the same token, Jan calculate’s his EV’s efficiency at theoretical levels; not of an engine’s actual use. Especially where hills, stop lights, stalled traffic, weather conditions, etc diminish efficiency.
    Also note Jan’s portrayal of internal combustion efficiency by using late 1800 and early 1900 stats to drag his graphic balloons down the efficiency scale.
    It is also interesting that steam power efficiency uses the steam engines of 1900 era.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    The Battery vs the gasoline tank

    Again a compartmentalized fantasy.
    Jan avoids the entire battery question, with minor concessions towards charging and life cycle. Ignoring safety concerns and impact to vehicle weight.
    Jan also treats the battery as fully self contained. All losses incurred by the electrical generating facilities, where it is very noisy, through the entire electrical grid.
    Also note Jan’s sleight of hand comparing “charging times” and his claim, “In practice no more time on filling station than for a gasoline car.”
    Yet, just above Jan states, “which it takes 8 hours to fill at home, or 25 minutes on a supercharger”.
    Personally, I find that 8 hours charge time questionable. Ordinary 4.5 volt rechargeable batteries take over four hours to recharge. When someone claims that a massive battery charges in eight hours, I have strong reservations; especially how that charge time changes over time and cycles.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    Due to the good energy economy, it has a driving range from 140 km with modest speed in the summer to about 80 km in the coldest winter months.
    Those ranges may seem puny, but in my experience, it covers the vast majority of most people’s driving needs.

    Throughout Jan’s article, he constantly reinforces EV statements with praise, joy, delight, thrill, whatever; just as Jan introduces his biased efficiency praise here.
    Note Jan’s careful avoidance of detail; e.g. “modest speed”.
    140km (86 miles), 80km (49 miles); after which, Jan ends his EV delight statement with “it covers the vast majority of most people’s driving needs”. A typical urbanite’s dismissal of anyone needing or desiring greater range.
    For the latter part of my career, my daily commute was 72 miles (116km) each way. That commute occurred whether or not my power was on, roads were open, weather, whatever. Our frequent local power outages seriously damage EV utility.
    Jan’s “vast majority” and “driving needs” claims are specious sophistry.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    “Approximately: 2 KWh /100 Km = 2,0 L /100 km ( 120 mpg)

    Note Jan’s pure battery charge = miles per gallon calculation.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    Toque(sp? Torque) and rotational speed

    Another of Jan’s strawmen. Note Jan’s discussion regarding torque, rotational speed, efficiency all avoid how electric motors achieve that torque and speed; i.e. amperage required to increase speed.
    Instead, Jan focuses on sophistry and wordplay about torque delivered over rotational speeds.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    Nevertheless, this demonstrates one aspect of the difference between ICE and EV; an EV has no engine noise even at 12 000 RPM.

    N.B. Jan does not supply actual decibel measurements, just an impossible opinion.
    The Jan supplies his version of a fake chart; e.g.:

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    No oil

    No oil whatsoever? All mechanical components run in unlubricated conditions?

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    Driveline complexity (increase cost) Small, few parts, very few moving parts

    Again, more opinion masquerading as simple statements.
    There is no possible way for an EV with it’s computers, regenerative brakes, multiple motors, supporting complex circuitry controller boards and gearing is as simple as Jan claims.
    Jan sneaks his claim through by defining “moving parts”, but even there, there are substantial questions as EV proponents claim one motor is one moving part.

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    Li-ion battery with 5 – 8 years warranty
    Replacing battery may cost 10 000 – 20 000 USD — (but battery prices are falling)

    Jan supports this claim through waffle words.
    “may cost”, “battery prices are falling”, “5-8 years warranty”
    That “battery prices are falling” claim has been bandied for decades. Not that the retail costs of Li-ion batteries have actually declined. Nor is it comforting when car manufacturers subsidize battery replacements to avoid frightening potential customers.
    About that “warranty”; just what does that warranty cover?
    A common warranty limitation is “age” and “usage”, where prorating batteries through age and usage calculations counts as a warranty, but fail to replace a dead/dying battery. i.e. unless one is replacing the entire battery within months of purchase.
    A car battery of mine that died after a couple of years, less than half of it’s warrantied lifetime; after “age and usage” calculation got me $10 off a new battery. An identical battery with the exact same warranty. I declined and bought a replacement battery elsewhere
    Then, Jan’s “total economy”

    Jan Kjetil Andersen
    Total economy Depends on oil prices, Improving as battery prices continue to drop, In transition from minus to plus?

    Note, Jan’s evasive “depends upon oil prices” for internal combustion machines. A statement that ignores European taxes that are the primary driver for fuel prices in Europe.
    Again, he repeats a battery prices drop sophistry.
    Then, Jan finally admits in a very specious manner that EV economy is negative; where Jan claims that the EV is transitioning from minus to plus.
    Hybrid vehicles are somewhat popular in this area of Virginia.
    • While efficiency is on the list of positives, it is near the bottom.
    • The largest driver for EVs and hybrids are their subsidized prices.
    • Closely followed by High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) benefits. i.e. EVs and hybrid vehicles get preferences for using HOV lanes, without the minimum vehicle passengers required for regular vehicles.
    • Then there are the premium parking allowances. In most government parking lots/buildings, EVs and hybrids get both a parking space and preferred location. Other vehicles require high executive position or membership in an organized commuting group.
    The commuting groups, I participated in, required a minimum 3 employees to qualify for the waiting list. More employees signed into a group increased chances for obtaining a commuter parking spot.
    • EVs and hybrids for daily errands are visible, but not common.
    In my case, the nearest grocery store is 8 miles by road, 2 miles by air (a lot of back yards). Sixteen miles for one grocery trip.
    Add in a doctor appointment and that trip becomes thirty miles.
    Kids at school, pick ups, drop offs, soccer, track, Scouts, Religious meetings or education, etc quickly use up an EVs total ability, every day; without fulfilling one’s needs.
    Then there is my inability to justify owning multiple vehicles where one vehicle suffices.
    Retired, I no longer benefit from government enforced EV or hybrid benefits.
    Living rurally, raising animals, gardening, etc. means that my 18 year old truck is still my goto transportation and work horse. Nor do I plan to retire that truck anytime soon. Hundreds of thousands of miles has increased my trust in that vehicle, not reduced it.
    Urbanite condescension utterly fails to prove EV superiority, especially since Jan does not address the very real EV weaknesses.
    It’s a religion.

    • You hit a good number of my thoughts very well. I was caught by the quiet driving, birds singing bit. My experience, like yours, has been I’ve been driving quiet cars (ICE’s) for over 30 years. Noise is wind noise and noisier when the windows are down. I do have a noisy ICE. It’s a Mazda MX-5 convertible. It is noisy top up or down and the noise is NOT from the ICE. My last drive in that car was about twice the range of the Leaf and there were no charging stations on the back roads north of Richmond.
      One of my neighbors has a Tesla. He loves it. But, like my Mazda, it seems more of an expensive toy.

    • – And his comparative-efficiencies graph is outdated at best. Steam powerplants increase in efficiency ~their size, to +50%. His gasoline-engine max mileage is 30 mpg; lots of compacts double that. He doesn’t look at diesels at all, though I know people with Jettas getting 70 mpg.
      I’d accuse him of cherry-picking, but he seems a nice guy; and there are areas (like my daily commute) where an EV would do me very well. Mind you, I worked-out (at 33 kWh/gal) my fuel costs (currently $1.25/litre) vs an EV (no subsidies here!) at our electricity rate (one of the highest in North America), and it’s ~the same. So I guess there’s no Chevy Volt in my immediate future; so sad…

  56. Yes EVs are a good choice if you only use them to commute short distances every day, or if you live in the suburbs and need only to run short errands every day. But you have to also own an ICE car for real travel, and you also risk being unable to respond to unexpected situations or needs.
    If you are out in a EV running errands, and you get a call from your mother to come over to her house quick to help her with something important, you say, “Too bad Mom, that’s 20 miles away and I don’t have range to get there. I’ll come over tomorrow after I charge this thing up tonight.”
    There goes your inheritance!

    • Yep, you need a back up ICE car. Just like windmills need a backup thermal power station. Everything in this great big scam needs a backup, and a subsidy.

  57. In your article you give the range of your EV: “Due to the good energy economy, it has a driving range from 140 km with modest speed in the summer to about 80 km in the coldest winter months.”
    But then in your chart you give the range of “Up to 500 km” – Which is it?
    Also you said that your family has 2 regular cars, I assume to drive further distances with larger loads, and in the cold winter months.
    One has to be relatively “rich” to be able to afford an EV these days I would suggest, based on your story. One needs a regular car in addition to the EV.
    I would love to have an EV to run around town with, but when I want to pick up someone at the airport which is a 3 hour drive each way (through mountains of the southern Baja), I need to use my Dodge Caravan, a 7 passenger. I just couldn’t afford an EV now, especially on my limited social security income.

    • I would love to know what a “modest speed” is.
      One of the most frustrating thing about this article is whenever he talks about the joys of the EV, actual numbers disappear.

    • Hi J Philip
      The 80km in winter and 140 in summer is for my four year old leaf. I thought the range were a little disappointing when I bought it because it was lesser than the European standard showed, but it has at least not dropped with time so far.
      The 500 km is for Tesla.
      The gasoline prices are so high here in Europe that I calculated that I have saved similar to 10 000 USD by using electricity compared to gasoline. That is about one third of the cost of a new car.
      And we have full taxes on the electricity to the car.
      /Jan

      • Please explain this comment.
        “And we have full taxes on the electricity to the car.”
        Do you mean that you pay 3 to 4 times the price for your Electricity than normal electricity users?
        ie comparable to Fossil Fuel taxes.

      • @ Jan Kjetil Andersen
        Thanks for clarifying. I would love even to have even a “golf cart” type vehicle to get around town with which to do local grocery shopping and bill paying…I have to pay the electric, telephone/internet, water co., Dish TV, tax bills the old fashioned way of going to their offices rather than online down here, – but it is getting better…
        Most are within 3 to 10 blocks from where I live here in La Paz, BCS, Mexico.

  58. I’m sure accentuating EV’s technical details will win over the masses, who so want to be free of bondage to convenience and economy.

  59. ICE engines run hotter than they did in the 50’s, thanks to pressurized cooling systems.
    With different coolants, their internal temperatures can be increased even more.

  60. “The noiseless engine let you hear the wind blowing and the birds singing”
    And also means that pedestrians won’t hear you coming. It’s only a matter of time before a serious (or fatal) accident leads to a high profile court case, and the requirement that all BEV’s (and PHEV’s) have a simulated engine noise system fitted…

  61. I am normally a person who would list all the negatives, positives and true effects on society. Energy would top the list as many posters here have pointed out.
    With that I have to admit that I built an electric mid drive bicycle for my disabled wife and I could not leave it alone so I went out and built an electric titanium mid drive fat bike for myself. The number of miles and exercise that I get more than tripled. It only puts a smile on my face and I don’t give the north end of a southbound rat what others have to say about it. I have now built ten bikes in total for other riders. I have not tried an electric car but suspect the same would be true.

  62. A couple more points which have not been raised (or I missed them, skimming through the thread!):
    a) EVs cannot be left disconnected for long periods. I don’t have any figures but they use a small amount of battery power to keep it conditioned and, in winter, heated. Maybe someone has some info on how long an EV can be left before the battery dies completely? It’s a potential issue for long-term parking, for example.
    b) Depreciation: from comments on a recent consumer show feature on EVs, their value drops like the proverbial lead balloon. Depreciation is usually the largest single cost of car ownership. So EVs cost more to buy but are worth less after a few years. Ouch.

    • – And a lithium battery that dies completely, will not recharge and must be replaced. This is engineered into them – they’re very tender at that point, and if not charged “PRECISELY” right, they’ll catch fire or explode. Every time. So their charging circuitry won’t let them be charged anymore if their internal voltage falls below a certain point. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

  63. I didn’t see it in the article, but I think one important factor in EV use in Norway is that they do not have to pay tolls (of which there are many) and can use bus lanes. This policy is being changed and it will be interesting to see how popular these cars will be once they are competing directly with ICE and Hybrids.

  64. If you have the resorces to have 2 or even 3 cars, I can understand having an EV.
    A lot of people cannot afford that, and many will have to settle for ONE old car.
    The following is a comparison between the Nissan NV200 and the Nissan e-NV200 as
    they are sold in Norway. Right part of table in US Dollar.
    NV200 NOK e-NV200 NOK | NV200 US$ e-NV200 US$
    ———————————————————————————————————-
    Price w/o Tax 159358 293590 | $20300 $37400
    Car Tax 110950 0 | $14133 $0
    Sales tax (VAT) 39837 0 | $5075 $0
    Sales Price 310145 293590 | $39509 $37400
    Total Tax 150787 0 | $19209 $0
    Annual Road Tax 3400 0 | $433 $0
    In addition, the EV pays nothing on toll roads, parking is free, they can use bus-lanes,
    half price on ferrys. Many can also charge them for free.
    I do not drive that much, so my toll road bill is about NOK7000/year or about $900
    Gas prices in Norway is NOK 15.50/litre or $7.47/US gal. Most of it tax.
    The CO2 from all cars in Norway is less than 10% of the total.
    Norway export large parts of its clean hydropower to EU for “Green Cards”.
    We get Coal Power back so we heat our houses and charge our EV with Coal Power.
    The enviromental gain of EV is miniscule to negative if you also consider
    the emissions from battery production. (and resycling).
    I think the least you can do is to put the following Bumper-Sticker on your EV:
    “Thank you for paying my tax!”

    • Kai,
      We get Coal Power back so we heat our houses and charge our EV with Coal Power.
      Seems not correct to me: most of what you receive is wind and (to a far lesser amount) solar power from Denmark and Germany (via Denamrk and Sweden), when they have too much of it and can’t use it. At that moment you can reduce the output of the water turbines, and keep the water behind the dams until needed by yourself or your neighbours.
      For calculations they use the “average CO2 intensity” of the total production of a country for the power export, but that is not fair as the real surplus they can’t use is only from wind/solar…

      • So you mean that this Power we get back from the EU should be surplus power that of course should have a very low price. I can tell you that the price of Electric Energy in Norway is rising. That will immediately kill your theory. If we could import surplus energy at surplus price and export higly needed energy to a high price, the prices in Norway should go down. This is simple market economy. This is not happening.

      • Kai,
        Power prices in Denmark and Germany are the highest in Europe, doubled in less than 10 years. Here in Belgium +50% in only 5 years, thanks to wind and solar, while we still have 50% nuclear (but not for long: should stop in 2023, thanks to crazy politicians)…
        Electricity import/export is not easy to follow in Europe. Here a map of current production and movements:
        https://www.electricitymap.org/
        At this moment Germany is exporting some 1200 MW to Denmark. Denmark exports near 1000 MW to Norway. Norway only uses 2/3 of its hydro capacity, thus the price of the German/Denmark power must be below that of the hydropower in Norway to accept it.
        Power production sources in Germany can be followed at:
        https://www.energy-charts.de/power_de.htm
        On 23 April around 14:00 h, they had a peak production and not enough demand. Then they dumped their surplus at all their neighbours. You can see that by pushing the “Import, Export” button at the same page.

  65. I wonder if a fuel cell that’s more practical for transport than a battery will be developed soon. We’ve already seen the methane powered Bloom Box become a commercial success in the USA. Ideally a transport fuel cell would use a liquid fuel, perhaps an alcohol.Or propane, which stores under moderate pressure as liquid, whereas methane or hydrogen require crazy pressures to get any significant amount into a tank.
    The fuel cell coupled with electric drive (and perhaps a small traction battery to allow immediate driving whilst the fuel cell is warming up) would be a near-ideal setup. Low noise, high efficiency and smooth performance, but refillable in minutes.
    If the CO2 aspect is still a worry, then these fuels could be synthesized given plentiful cheap electricity from LFTR or similar reactors.
    Personally I’m inclined to wait and see on this one,. Buying too soon could be a case of backing the wrong horse.

  66. Discussion of relative efficiency is at best misleading. Eliminate the subsidies, add appropriate road tax and electricity sur-charge for necessary increased central electricity generation and distribution capacity, i.e. make them pay their way, and see what happens to EV sales.
    A side consideration, wind turbines and solar voltaic consume more energy in manufacture, installation, maintenance and administration than they produce in there service life. Their failure as an energy source is masked at present because essentially all of this energy is now provided by fossil fuels.

  67. A few points to shout out to here from the technical department that I can’t let go, even though this is a positive article overall.
    1 – “Transmission oil Change very 100 000 km No transmission oil +”
    Incorrect, the Chevrolet Bolt uses 3.1 qts of transmission fluid.
    2 – “Brakes Tear out after approximately 100 000 km Almost never tear out because of regenerative braking is used instead of brakes”
    Incorrect, living in the New England salt belt, I have serviced several Chevrolet Volt brake systems due to not using the brakes enough causing heavy rust build up on brake rotors and damaging brake pads. Chevrolet Volt uses a regenerative braking system similar to the Bolt.
    3 – “Engine durability Good Good equal”
    Can this be compared on a time scale with proper maintenance (even outside of the salt belt) My “toy” car is a 1989 Chevrolet Caprice, I am curious of the life span of these Li-Ion batteries, I am sure that it is not 30 years though.
    4 – “Driveline complexity (increase cost) Complex, hundreds of moving parts Small, few parts, very few moving parts”
    If you have been inside of a Chevrolet Bolt transmission, then I might believe that. In downtown Detroit’s Renaissance Center is GM training headquarters. I don’t know if you would be allowed in, but there are more than a “small, few parts, very few moving parts” within that transmission.
    As a Master Tech I just could not let those points go untouched. However usually by now the comments are so buried that this will probably be overlooked. But good job on the article, it was a positive read overall.

    • Thank you for your insightful comments Nate
      Your comments bring new knowledge to the debate. I have herd the argument about rust om the brakes before, but I have not experienced it, yet. Perhaps it depends on the car model, my do not use much regeneration when the battery is more than 90% full and that may contribute to hold them rust free.
      /Jan

  68. I haven’t read through all the other comments yet, so forgive me if I’m repeating some points that may have already been raised, but here are some thoughts:
    “My personal experience is based on being a user of Nissan Leaf in my daily commute for the last four years. We do also have two ordinary cars…”
    Of course you do. Because while your EV may be a good “commuter” car, it’s quite impractical when you’re going on a longer trip.
    “In practice we see that there are losses in charging batteries, using batteries and friction in the electric drivetrain, but the actual power to the wheels is here about 82 percent, i.e. several times better than an ICE.”
    Which conveniently ignores the losses in electrical generation (generally fossil fuel (coal or oil) based), and in transmission and distribution, all of which occur before the electricity magically emerges from the outlet you plug into. So an invalid comparison.
    “Imaging having a car with 0.7 gallons gasoline tank, which it takes 8 hours to fill at home, or 25 minutes on a supercharger, would you, buy it?”
    Hell no! Which is exactly why I’ll continue driving ICE vehicles as long as I can forsee. EVs are simply not practical as anything but special purpose use (i.e., short distance commuting) vehicles.
    “Due to the good energy economy, it has a driving range from 140 km with modest speed in the summer to about 80 km in the coldest winter months. Those ranges may seem puny, but in my experience, it covers the vast majority of most people’s driving needs.”
    So, BEST range of 87 miles. 50 in cold weather. IOW USELESS. And please, stop with the “most people’s needs” assumptions.
    “Tesla is leading the range contest with 500 km (310 mile) range and a supercharging rate of 270 km (170 miles) in 30 minutes. With those figures, the range and filling time properties starts to close in on fossil fueled cars.”
    My ICE car can get 310 mile range doing local short trips; on long highway trips, I can get about 400 mile range. And I can refill the gas tank in about THREE minutes, not 30 (which only gets you 170 miles). So color me unimpressed. Especially since ALL of those supposed EV “ranges” are probably calculated under ideal conditions I seldom encounter in the *real world* – as in driving in the dark, in cold weather, in heavy traffic, etc. In no way do those ranges come close to ICE cars, and the refuel times are pathetic.
    “There is a large uncertainty concerning the total economy because of the yet unknown lifetime of the battery.”
    Yes – and a waste disposal problem too!
    “The EV driving experience is superb, but the range and recharging time is still inferior compared to traditional cars.”
    Yup, and just think what would happen if ICE cars employed a generator and elctric traction motors, ala RR locomotives, instead of a transmission/transaxle. You might just lose your only reason for buying an EV!
    “Personally, I think the evolution will go even quicker. The much better energy efficiency and torque curves are revolutionary improvements which are impossible to match for any ICE. The EV will soon have both better total economy and better driving performance than any ICE, and most people will then buy the best and most economical vehicle. My bet is that EV will outsell ICE before the year 2030.”
    Personally, I think your predictions are daft. EV “issues” far outstrip EV “advantages,” and nothing meaningfull is occurring to do away with the “issues.” And the employment of an electric generator powered by an ICE would render the supposed (efficiency) and actual (torque curves) EV advantages moot, so future cars may bear little resemblence to your predictions.

  69. I once drove an electric vehicle. It had a post with a strip of spring metal on top at the back and it cost sixpence for every three minutes it ran. My girl friend preferred the Royal Enfield Constellation 700 that we went home on though.

  70. I love this carefully crafted analysis….
    Electric vehicles are analogous to wind and solar power. Both are niche technologies/markets with huge government mandated taxpayer subsidy supports. You can purchase them to fit your limited niche needs and desires, but you will still need a reliable conventional transportation technology to provide the longer range, all weather, heavy load and towing capabilities that are dispatchable 24/7/365 and can be refueled in a few minutes wherever your travels take you.
    Yesterday I drove about 100 miles over to the Teanaway River and then up into the hills northeast of Cle Elum WA. I spent a wonderful 7 hours exploring the area on various logging and forest service roads, stopping to take pictures of wild flowers and rushing mountain streams, hiking, and just enjoying early spring in the hills south of Mount Stuart. The gravel/dirt roads are narrow, rough, water washed and steep in places, choked with snow in shady areas and largely impassible above 3000 feet due to unmelted snow pack, even with 4 wheel drive. Traveling there and back required going over 3300 feet high Snoqualmie Pass. My total trip mileage was 268 miles, at an average 21.5 mpg for the trip. That’s about 12.5 gallons US and cost about $38 at $3.10/gal.
    Few true eV’s have the battery range to just make the 200 mile round trip over Snoqualmie Pass to Cle Elum and back, let alone the ground clearance, range, endurance, and other capabilities necessary to safely and reliably traverse those rough mountain logging roads.
    I did this trip on a ‘spur of the moment’ decision, after finishing my second cup of coffee on Tuesday morning. I had no worries about my vehicle being capable of easily handling all of the distance and terrain requirements. Just jump in and go. Get fuel if you need it, in minutes, from readily available sources. I didn’t need fuel, as the total trip only used a bit more than half a tank. The vehicle is so quiet that, even back on rough logging roads, the only noise you hear is the sound of the tires on dirt, gravel, snow pack, and splashing through deep mud holes.
    If you’re willing to accept all of the debilitating compromises of current eV’s, that’s your choice. They sure don’t serve my needs. What vehicle do I have? It’s a 2017 Ford F150 4X4, with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 gas engine, SAE certified at 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. I also use it to tow loaded trailers weighing a tad more than 7000 lbs, on occasion. It is a marvelous ICE vehicle, with exceptional capabilities that meets most every transportation need I have without compromise. Exception capabilities without compromise are indeed virtues worth ‘signalling’!

  71. I don’t care how an electric car handles, or how quiet it is — I only want one if it saves energy over its whole life cycle (including manufacture, and the fact that you have to replace the batteries on some of them after 70 or 80,000 miles) relative to a gasoline powered car. Has anyone done a reliable comparison of this recently? Because the ones I’ve seen (several years ago) showed they had not yet reached energy break-even.

  72. And the problem is EV cost benefit comes from the lack of taxes they face compared to fossil fuel cars. Given the massive tax take on petrol and diesel, money used across a wide range or areas. There is no hope at all of EV ,once they hit significant numbers , of not facing the same regime .Therefore bye bye goes one manager advantage , while the problems may well remain .
    And by the way the greens have already made it clear they will oppose EV in their turn as well , because what they really hate is people having motorized independent travel options , no matter what powers it.

  73. I have posted this before so apologies if you saw it then but it is highly relevant and bears repeating.
    Where I live is a dispersed rural community of 21 dwellings. Our electricity comes from a single 3-phase 100kVA transformer. Supply lines are overhead on poles mainly with a few underground “tails” to individual properties. Some lines quite long, I am over 600m from the transformer. ALL my neighbours have at least 2 cars. One has 7 (it’s a large house!). One has holiday let cottages (6 of them) so when fully booked there would probably be 9 cars there.
    Using reasonable assumptions regarding charging rates and car usage would require substantial upgrading to the local electricity supply transformer and distribution cables. This cost has been estimated at around £450,000, and that is between 21 dwellings. That’s well over £20,000 per house.
    Where is that money coming from?
    If we now add in conversion to electric heating (no gas mains within 3/4 mile) as the central heating oil is ‘orrible fossil fuel and has to be banned we would probably be looking at at least double that figure.
    The concept of moving to 100% electric vehicles and house heating is clearly impractical nonsense.

    • Germany has a similar, but opposite problem: they promoted solar with a lot of subsidies with as result that the local lines are overloaded when there is a lot of sun and everybody is working at factories and towns in another area and there is little local use. So they need to increase the capacity of the local lines but that will cost an enormous amount of money…

    • Thank you for the link, Ferdinand
      That was a lot of information for different transport methods. He mentions more or less the same pro and cons as I have listed for cars, but he has a lot more on other vehicles.
      I think electric railways, bikes and scooters have a great future alongside electric automobiles.
      .
      /Jan

  74. I haven’t read all comments so maybe this point has already been covered but I will state it here. All battery packs must be standardized, by decree if necessary. Lightweight (under 50 pounds) maybe, and easily swapable. Stations would have these standard packs on hand for instant changeout. These batteries can be trucked from large charging stations just like our gasoline is now. It’s all a matter of economics. Will it fly? Probably not.
    Al

  75. I get so irritated by people sometimes.
    Here are some numbers for you EV fans.
    Total United States Energy generation 2017 (estimated) : 4.01 Trillion kwh
    Number of vehicles currently on road in America (estimated): 263 Million
    Now let’s assume that the number of vehicles includes cars hardly ever driven, junkers and wild estimates….let’s go with 200 Million
    Average charge for an EV on a daily basis (estimate) 20kwh
    Ooooh, math time……… 50% EV saturation of market (eager assumption) = .50(200,000,000) x 20kwh =
    2,000,000,000 kwh/day x 365 = 730 Billion kwh. Extra. Needed. A year.
    Now, I have read here where people think that there is excess energy in the system at night. There is excess capacity, but it is curtailed at certain times to extend lifetimes. There is very little excess energy. Companies run at minimum capacity. Don’t want equipment failure. And it is difficult to sell unneeded power.
    Now lets be nice and assume that in reality not every one will want or need a full charge every day…probably a day dream…but hey why not. That means we probably need at least an extra 600 Billion kwh a year and we have to allow for down time. We may get more out of existing power generation, but at some point equipment failure becomes an issue.
    Sooooooo, do you think that will magically come from Solar? Wind? Nope. GAS! And you have to factor in transmission efficiency.
    Why won’t it come from solar and wind you might ask. Well its called rare earth metals. China bought our mine and shut it down and has complete control of the earth’s supply. Not to mention finding enough space in the southwest to put up solar facilities, because it is a waste of money to put those anywhere else. And on, and on, and on.
    That doesn’t mean that it isn’t doable, but America’s flirtation with abject stupidity makes it plain that it probably is….not doable.

    • I agree with your calculations, but I do not think 730 billion kWh annually is such a huge obstacle.
      It is less than 20% of the current electricity supply and we are talking about fuel replacing all cars with EV.
      The 730 TWh could come from several sources. One way is to build 80 new nuclear reactors, eventually
      based on thorium or other technologies more accepted by the public.
      Wind and solar combined with pumped storage hydropower is another alternative.
      The so called “rare earth” elements are not so rare as you may think. I don’t think the resource issue will become a huge obstruction.
      It is also possible that traditional coal and gas will have a future combined with carbon capture.
      /Jan

      • I still have a major problem with your optimistic assumptions Jan that real soon now, along will come a new technology that will somehow solve of the existing problems. As a technology developer I have to say that it doesn’t always work that way. We all wish that it would but we have to be pragmatic.

      • Jan, that was only 50% market penetration. Complete replacement would require 1200 – 1400 TWh. Our country, as paralyzed as it is by a very militant left, would be incapable of building the necessary power generation facilities.

      • “based on thorium or other technologies more accepted by the public.”
        Some of the public has been brainwashed to think that any trivial amount of additional radiation is (at least slightly) dangerous and has measurable effects (according to some academies).
        Of course the baseline natural radiation exposure that is much higher than exposure from nuclear industry should have more dangerous effects and these effects should be easily measurable. These expected effects (more cancers) are not visible. They do not exist, obviously.

    • The main obstacle seems to be power rather than energy. There are some efforts on making schemes for charging EVs based on availability of power and low energy prices and it seems to be working. If it will still work when everyone is going to start charging during the same low demand periods is a question of course.
      Power costs a lot, since it drives the size and cost of actual infrastructure. Norway has an issue in this regard. We have the energy, but lack the ability to carry the power.

  76. It’s worth remembering that in Norway, some high mountain roads are only travelled convoy style in winter. You wait (engine running, its -20C and snowing) for the lead snow-plough to arrive, and follow it across the hill. Some of the convoy routes have banned EV’s. The reasons are obvious, and that sort of thing matters to me as I don’t stay home in front of the fire in winter. I’m often out enjoying the delights of Scotland’s winter hills.
    I have a 13 year old diesel estate car, thankfully pre-DPF, which has never failed me, and which I intend to run until it dies. I’ll replace it with a petrol ICE car to avoid DPF hell, and my mileage is going down now anyway so the economy aspect is less important.
    An EV might be a decent city car, but only if you’re lucky enough to have somewhere to charge it. In some parts of Edinburgh you’d be lucky to park within 50 or 100 yards of your house, which doesn’t have a driveway. So, how would you charge your EV?
    Stuff that. I’m nearly 60, I cycle to work 4 or 6 miles depending on venue, and can beat the traffic, even when it’s snowing.
    Folk are soft these days.

  77. I enjoyed the article, glad to see the positive EV side without much fiction, but I cringed when I saw the efficiency graph. I recently compared the Wells-to-Wheel (WTW) energy efficiency of EV vs gasoline using the latest California power efficiency estimate of 44%, 6% line losses, EPA combined-cycle fuel economy estimates, and our Ca Greet 2.0 Well-to-Tank petroleum estimates of 95%. The Wells-to-Wheel methodology was developed decades ago to specifically keep us out of the ditch for electric vehicles energy discussions.
    It is easy to confirm that the EV is very efficient on a WTW basis. For example the Nissan Leaf is generally found to be -/+ 15% (roughly) more efficient than a gasoline-hybrid counterpart. Hybrids are the proper vehicle comparison price-point and technology perspective, due to both vehicles using regenerative brakes.
    Comparing a Nissan Leaf vs Ford Fusion-hybrid. The Leaf was found to use 15 percent less energy per mile than the Ford Fusion-hybrid (a heavier car comparison point). Conversely comparing the Nissan Leaf with a Toyota Prius C (a much closer car weight comparison point), finds the Leaf consuming 13 percent more energy per mile. Your mileage may vary and other vehicles may yield different results of course. But do EVs today justify continued Federal and State incentives?

    • Thank you for many good points G Yowell
      You ask a big question:

      do EVs today justify continued Federal and State incentives?

      I think it can only be justified it is obvious that they are, or will become, sufficiently less of an environmental burden than fossil fuel cars.
      That is a quite complex question which I may come back to in another post, if Anthony accept it.
      /Jan

      • If you write an article… please indicate why the government should enforce an arbitrary and short timeline on meeting unattainable emissions standards… which is the main creator of the entire modern EV market space.

    • Conversely comparing the Nissan Leaf with a Toyota Prius C (a much closer car weight comparison point), finds the Leaf consuming 13 percent more energy per mile.

      This. Hybrid car efficiency is ≥ EV efficiency. Hybrids don’t require massively costly additional infrastructure and eliminate the range problem.
      EV subsidies come down to taxpayers subsidizing two distinct interest groups: 1) Rich people who can afford a third car to tool around town and put their eco-virtue on display and 2) EV fanbois smitten with driving full-size slot cars around town, geeking out about 100% torque @ 0rpm and a very low center of gravity.
      Both groups can afford to fund their hobbies w/o taxpayer help.

  78. CAN ANYONE SAY PROPAGANDA? The logical holes in this piece are legion. The apples-and-oranges “energy efficiency” figure is a joke, a bad joke: So misleading it seems worthy of the NYT. Andersen either has a poor grasp on the relevant physics and is just parroting technical terms (it almost reads like he cut & pasted from physics sources) or is intentionally omitting contrary facts. For example, his discussion of diesels omits the single biggest reason for the diesel’s high efficiency: the lack of a throttle, and the associated gains from the (virtual) elimination of the PV diagram’s “pump loop.” (For the thinking person, this line of physics reasoning clearly shows that a hybrid, save regeneration, is simply a throttled ICE trying to emulate a diesel by using a very small engine — i.e. one with a normal high throttle opening and thus much higher thermodynamic efficiency — with an electric boost system for “load leveling.”)
    I’m a registered EE with years of experience with electric motors AND as a power system engineer. Andersen’s omissions are stunning. No mention of the generation mix. OF COURSE one can convert an highly organized energy source like electric power at high efficiency BUT he seems blissfully unaware that EV are just energy delivery systems, from energy that was generated (mostly), with the associated pollution, from fossil fuels in someone else’s back yard, whereas in the internal combustion engine the fossil fuel is burned in situ: No transmission line/transformer/generation/battery losses. (Since efficiencies are multiplicative, these are not insignificant.) AND, as was pointed out in IEEE Spectrum Magazine, the cradle to grave pollution of EV is several times that of an equivalent gasoline engine (March 2001, pp. 47; while things have improved since 2001, the basic point remains. One cannot ignore pollution due to battery manufacturing and disposal.)
    In my view, as an EE, EV are a scam, where an ignorant public is conned into giving EV owners free energy and purchase credits.
    Mr. Anderson, if you want to help your EV cause, in the future I suggest you make strong and honest arguments based on sound engineering. And leave the propaganda to the leftist media. After all, what good did it ever do to solve the wrong problem?

  79. What would you buy if you could only afford one car? In Canberra, new apartment buildings only have space for one vehicle per apartment. Technically you could get an ev, then rent a normal car when you have to go long distances before you could get to a charging station, but I don’t think that many people would want to do it that way. Not when you can see that the capital cost of just the ev exceeds the capital and operating costs of a normal car.
    Also, how many apartments have a charging point for every ev? Even have the power distribution to handle an ev for every apartment?

  80. I think I must live in a different world from some of the posters here. In my world, things go awry, usually at the worst possible time. A neighbor calls, late on a rainy night. He and his family are on the side of the road with a flat, and he needed help changing the tire. Or, a relative nine hundred miles away, falls and breaks his hip. We need to get to the hospital to ok his medical care and see to his needs. The ‘polar vortex’ (this happened several years ago) was about to blow through, leaving us driving through a blizzard; a hundred miles on the interstate at thirty miles an hour in near white-out conditions after already having driven for twelve hours. My mother had to evacuate when a hurricane called Katrina took direct aim at her house on the Mississippi coast (nothing left but the slab), and I needed to get to her immediately. She was seven hundred miles away.
    Refueling time is important. Driving range is important. But the most important thing is having a vehicle ready to go 24×7. Eight hours of downtime to recharge is unacceptable, day or night. A half-hour to refuel (assuming I’m not waiting in line for my turn) to continue for less than 200 miles is not acceptable. Having to worry about how far I can drive in an EV with the headlights on, heater on, the windshield wipers on, at thirty miles an hour in ten degrees (F) weather is not acceptable.
    All other issues are purely academic to me.

    • The author, being Norwegian, is looking at EVs from a city perspective. I totally agree with him, and being Norwegian myself I know that with the current tax regime EVs are a no-brainer for local commute.
      It is important, thought, to notice that EVs are mainly found in the south of Norway. The further north you go, the fewer they are. Go much north of Trondheim, where I live, and the EV density falls rapidly. Reason? Distance, utility and temperature. EVs are sensitive to temperature, and range falls dramatically with it. Very few EVs are delivered with the capability of trailing, and if you do it your range falls markedly. Distance between towns and cities are enormous up north compared to down south. Combined, they do not make for EV terrain.

      • Thank you for the info, Anders. From my point of view, even in the city, I would not want a vehicle that had regular downtime. In town I might consider an EV for a second car, where if needed I could get home quickly to get my ICE vehicle. Perhaps society is different in your area, but we have a very mobile society. I doubt if few people only have friends, family, property, and business solely in their specific city, and could manage life conveniently with no vehicle for up to one-third of a day on a regular basis. I know that with my luck, disaster would strike just as the voltmeter hit zero. Why tempt fate?

  81. The topic of EV tech should not be in the mix of discussions re kerffufles about Grid electricity prices and sources.
    The grid must evolve to accomodate EVs—it’s as simple as that. They are going to take over, plan for it.
    For me, these are very different topics, and EVs deserve to be assessed on merit, without being smeared or lumped in with partisan arguments about CAGA, AGW, GW or natural variability.
    These are good cars, as are hybrids, and having driven severalof them over the past decade I would not hesitate to buy a new version of either Hybrid or EV.
    As pointed out in the article, range is now achieving 400 to 500 km, per full recharge. This is big, if cost is lowered. Consider this, hybrids have proven themselves for ~15 years as taxis. They exceeded range, cost and performance expectations from the outset and just kept getting better. A taxi typically does 300 km per 12 hr shift, with a 20 minute driver change-over at the end of the shift. So as soon as a 350 km recharge can be applied in 20 mins, EVs will take over in taxi operations, globally. ICE, and even hybrids, will soon simply be unable to compete beyond another 5 years of operation. In other words, when worn out, they will be replaced with an EV. Once taxis have been using and proving EVs, for 5 years, that will mark the point where EV sales will take off globally, as they will be better in every way than an ICE or hybrid.
    I long ago decided I’m done with buying ICE vehicles, they’re simply not worth it and not good enough, nowhere near as good as a top quality Hybrid-electric or new EV. If you want range and the ready-to-go reliable convenience, get a hybrid-electric. If you want a commuter then get an EV, and just rent a hybrid if you want to go out of town. The money you save on lower fuel cost from a rented hybrid will pay for a fair chunk of the rental costs compared to a rented ICE car.
    And thank you to the article’s author.

      • Agree.
        There’s a dividing line between EV supporters and EV skeptics. And that dividing line is financial…
        The push EVs is a push to remove easy physical mobility for the average human. Of course, the EV supporters hand wave that away with “batteries will be cheap in the future” … utter nonsense.
        The price of product is not determined solely by its raw material cost. It is determined by the price which a given vendor can make maximal profit. This means that if enough purchasers are available at a high price, there is no incentive to lower the price of the product. The lower prices come about because of competition between multiple products.

      • @unknown502…
        ” … Of course, the EV supporters hand wave that away with “batteries will be cheap in the future” … utter nonsense. . .”
        Battery replacement was an issue LAST DECADE, especially in relation to gen-1 and gen-2 Prius, the reason for this was because they used NiCd batteries, which really can and do degrade and fail quickly.
        Fhe gen-2 battery initialy cost about $7,200 AUD to replace the NiCd cell, which was under the interior foor. Thus much of the cost was in pulling the whole car’s interrior out of the car, replacing the battery, then putting it all back together again.But after about 6 years even the gen-2 batery replacement cost fell to around $4,200 AUD, fitted. And most owners only did it once in the whole life of the car.
        This all changed with Gen-3 Prius, as they used a smaller lighter cheaper Li battery, and moved the battery to the rear hatch area, making battery swaps fast and very much cheaper. Plus Li lasts much longer, and degrades in performance far more gracefully and predictably.
        Most Gen-3s will not even need a new battery, as they last as long as most of the cars will. And contrary to your assertion, the batteries do actualy get much cheaper, as the technology and production plants mature, and competitive distribution networks grow.
        Most of the issues of battery change cost is a NYTH, that derived from the NiCd era, and those days are now long gone, so you might want to stop repeating that now inapplicable myth. The batteries now typically last the life cycle and usage of an average personal use car, so NEVER need to be changed, in 15 years of use.
        Now, calculate the fuel cost of running your ICE car for 15 years, and tell me how that’s such a good thing in comparison to a $4,000 battery you’d probably never have to buy?

    • WXcycles – count how many gasoline pumps, not just stations, there are in your area. Then consider how long and how much replacing them with 20-minute recharging locations would be. Actually, that would not be enough, considering the average car at a petrol station is in and out in less than twenty minutes. If you have less, a line quickly begins to form, and the wait time becomes much longer. People become irritated quickly waiting in lines, especially when they never had to before.
      If you think recharging would be at home for many, consider how long it and how much it would be to roll-out substantial numbers of charging stations (and I question whether a standard residential electrical drop would be sufficient for quick-chargers). Consider the effect on home sales; people don’t want to pay for what they won’t use, and those who need a station, but the prospective home doesn’t have one. Anything involving changes in an enormous market, like housing, takes a very long time.
      We have an existing electrical infrastructure, and one for delivering fuel to vehicles. They are both very extensive. Trying to enlarge one to virtually eliminate the other will be enormously expensive. So far I have not seen anything to justify such a conversion. Clearly, it won’t save us money.
      BTW, what’s your Plan B if we spend trillions of dollars to upgrade the electrical grid, but the quick-charge for long driving distances never comes to fruition, resulting in EV sales not going up? What will you say to those freezing in winter because they can not afford the high price of electricity?

    • @jtom,
      Most of your questions and points are answered or refuted all over this post’s comments, not going to repeat them all. As for your home, new build homes have options, if you don’t want it, don’t opt for it, it’s your choice. Hybrids will be around for decades anyway.
      And who said you needed to wait in line? EVs with over 500 km range exist now. You think you couldn’t do with a rest, toilet and a meal break after 5 to 6 hours of driving? Be realistic, any other time you can recharge over night. Or get a hybrid.
      But EVs will begin to take over from here, so the grid and infrastructure will evolve accordingly, as it always has. Who cares, you’re removing ME wars, supertankers, refineries, tank farms, trucks, pipelines, pumps, etc, with electron generators and cables.
      Yes, it costs investment money, but EV operating cost is a small fraction of ICE car operating costs. That is where it gets many times cheaper and ecomony of scale will make and sell them much cheaper again than ICE cars.
      And compared to ICE cars they’re far simpler and faster to make. The price will plumet as scale is acheived durng the 2030s

  82. A few summary comments, mostly highlighting mistakes in the OP arguments. (I’m an EE, and owner of both a Subie and a Gen 3 Prius.)
    BRAKES do wear out on an EV. Regeneration is insufficient for braking sometimes. Ours lasted about 120k miles which is good but certainly not forever.
    CHARGING ON THE ROAD: long term, forget it. EV won’t be fully accepted until we see a change to standard cartridge power packs. Why: it takes too much power to charge an EV! 5-10MW to do a “fill up” similar to an ICE. That is an impossibility. Of course, cartridges are very heavy. Probably you’ll dump-and-load from under the vehicle (or something like that.)
    CHARGING AT HOME: long term, this requires a MASSIVE upgrade of infrastructure. I have noted this before. I live in a brand new high end neighborhood. The transformer on our block only has 50KVA capacity, serving more than a dozen homes. You figure it out 🙂 (Max: 2 superchargers.) Thus, I believe long term the above cartridge power mechanism will win out.
    Bottom line: EV’s won’t be mainstream until we have standardized cartridge power packs.

  83. However Eric, as the author also states, that battery cost has been falling about 14% per annum.
    14% of $6,732 = $942
    So battery price next year will be around $5,800.
    In seven more years … it will be comparitively CHEAP to replace. Economy of scale will just keep pushing battery costs down, just as it has for 20 years now in hybrids.

    • In seven more years … it will be comparitively CHEAP to replace. Economy of scale will just keep pushing battery costs down, just as it has for 20 years now in hybrids.

      Yeah, but it doesn’t work that way. The price of regular automobiles has skyrocketed compared with the salaries of regular Americans. And so, today, a regular American consumer does not actually have the resources to purchase the average regular vehicle of any kind.
      The price of batteries may go down a little over time. But there’s going to be a point at which the price of any vehicle will rest. That point will be when enough purchasers are available to satisfy the demand of the vehicle. For EVs, all of said purchasers have salaries well above the average American… and this will be true for the foreseeable future.
      I myself drive around in an old beater car. It was less than half the cost of a used Nissan Leaf. The author had enough cash on hand to purchase his nice toy with its fun intangibles. However, most humans on the planet… even humans in one of the richest countries on the planet… do not have enough cash on hand to partake in such indulgent purchases.
      I don’t object to EVs as a product, but why should Americans be forced to purchase one through inane emissions objects set through corrupt government offices?
      I don’t object to EVs as a product, but why should American taxpayers be forced to pay a portion of toys with fun intangibles for the rich?
      If EVs are so good and so cheap, let them compete on the free market without government emission controls setting the bar for purchase of any vehicle and without the government subsidies for the purchaser and the manufacturer.

    • I experienced that with my recently-replaced 2010 Prius. At the time I bought, it was $10,000+ to replace the battery. Unrealistic, but off in the future. Today it’s less than $3,000 I think. Not cheap, but considering the very low maintenance cost and gas savings over the years, it was an option I seriously considered.

    • @unknown,
      I
      ” … If EVs are so good and so cheap, let them compete on the free market without government emission controls setting the bar for purchase of any vehicle and without the government subsidies for the purchaser and the manufacturer.”
      —-
      I agree, I suspect the cost is being held higher by the subsidies, the producer can charge more for them without killing demand. Once subsidies go the manufacturers who want to survive in the EV market will have to delivers better cars at cheaper prices. If they can’t they’re already failures.

  84. A modern, Euro6, diesel engine is more than 40% efficient. Modern cars get mileage of about 4-5 l/100 km, and the potential is to get down to 2-3 l/100 km.
    The article perpetuates very old information on ICEs, which is typical of stories you get from the EV perspective in Norway.

    • Correction: I see that “winter” is mentioned, but without details about which kind of winter…
      Also, the article is waaay too long.

  85. This entire article could be used as a boiler plate for another article entitled:
    A Positive Perspective on My McMansion
    Frankly, I expected more from this particular author.

  86. Anyone done a life cycle cost analysis of ICE vs EV? Materials, fuels, efficiencies, disposal, etc? I tried one once just looking at power generation and use (fuel to fuel) and it indicated what one comment above indicated, fuel to fuel it seems either vehicle is a wash?

    • Hi Meigs
      I can offer you a very simple one here:
      An EV can in theory be made of 100% sustainable resources. All metal used can be recycled forever and all energy used can come from renewables. This is not the situation now, but it is possible to aim for that goal.
      Elements are forever and renewables last as long as our Sun, i.e. a few more billon years.
      A car fueled by fossil fuel can never be sustainable because the burning of fossil fuels is a one-way non-renewable process. The energy in the fuel were stored as chemical energy millions of year ago. When we burn the fuel, the elements recombine in CO2 and water, and it will not form fossil fuel again in the next million year.
      /Jan

      • Can you give examples of “renewables” please?
        How do you go from “the sun shining” to “the battery is charging”?

      • Hi s-t,
        The renewables we can take into consideration with the current technology are: Hydropower, wind, photovoltaic, solar thermal, and hydrocarbons from plants and animals.
        All these can be harvested for millions of years.
        You may object to this and say that we need to use resources and energy to harvest these resources. We need to build windmills, photovoltaic cells, et cetera which use rare earth elements.
        That is true, but it is no fundamental physical constraints that stops us from making all these processes 100% sustainable. Elements never disappears so they can be recycled forever. Similarly, all energy used in the construction processes from excavators in the mines to the construction of photovoltaic cells can in principle be based on electricity from renewable sources.
        As I said, we are not there now, but sometimes it is useful to take a helicopter view to spot the difference in the fundamental physical processes. Renewable energy can be produced by 100% sustainable processes, but fossil energy can never be sustainable in the long run.
        /Jan

      • “When we burn the fuel, the elements recombine in CO2 and water, and it will not form fossil fuel again in the next million year.”
        Yes but the same CO2 and water will be absorbed by plants and you can harvest it again as biofuel. Burn the fossil fuel to make it sustainable and renewable. Or you only want CO2 from animal exhalation?

      • Dr. Strangelove
        As I said above, hydrocarbons harvested from plants and animals can be counted as one of the renewables.
        Burning of fossil hydrocarbons is not a renewable process because we have no way of bringing the carbon back to the deposits. The process does not become renewable just because it is possible to transfer it, and store it for a while, in plants and animals.
        /Jan

      • Why do you want to bring the carbon back to the deposits? You don’t want to recycle it? You said you want sustainable and renewable energy
        “The process does not become renewable just because it is possible to transfer it, and store it for a while, in plants and animals.”
        Then biofuels are not renewable. Reductio ad absurdum

      • Why do you want to bring the carbon back to the deposits? You don’t want to recycle it?

        Because recycling is a “cycle”.
        The biosphere cycle of carbon:
        Carbon captured from the air or water by plants in photosynthesis -> Carbon released to air or water when plants rot or are burnt -> Carbon captured from air or water by plants in photosynthesis etc. ad infinitum
        Fossil deposits have no place in that cycle.
        The carbon flow in the usage of fossil fuel is:
        Carbon dug/pumped out from the ground -> carbon released to air when fossil fuel is burnt.
        After that the carbon may of course interact between water, air and plants. The same carbon may also take place in another renewable biosphere cycle. However, if we ignore transitions in the very long time spans, it never gets out of the combined atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere.
        It is a one-way journey from a fossil deposit to the combined deposits in air, water and plants.
        /Jan

  87. Great article! Two issues to consider:
    1. Your living situation affects EV viability. For example, we live in a condo and park in an underground garage. To use an EV in practical-mode (i.e. charge it at home, so it’s always topped-off), I would have to pay a couple thousand dollars to have power routed to my parking space. IF I am even able to get access to power. (In our condo, there are three spare circuits, so I’d have to be one of the first three in line.)
    2. Let’s not forget hybrids. There really is a spectrum here: ICE –> Hybrid –> Plugin hybrid –> full EV. Hybrids provide many of the advantages of an EV with the power-density of gasoline. Plugin hybrids — if you have access to power, see point #1 — provide even more of the benefits. EV’s currently have to live with the youth-hostel-like situation of public charging stations, which is a nightmare if you’d actually travel a lot. (Tesla, with it’s faster charge and dedicated stations is an exception, and Nissan is a partial exception due to its charging stations at dealers.)
    We recently got a second Prius and love it. If we didn’t live in a condo, it probably would’ve been a Prius Prime (plugin hybrid). Our next car will probably be an EV, but not yet.

    • Thank you for your kind words Wayne.
      In Norway where I live, residents in condominiums can require having installed EV charging options. Although they probably must bear the cost themself, usually 1000 to 3000 usd, the condominiums management cannot reject applications for charging station without having a very good reason.
      That is the law.
      I guess that similar regulations will come in other counties as more people require it.
      Concerning hybrids, I agree that they are a good alternative, but the extra complexity with two engines make them quite expensive, at least if you want one with a great range on pure electricity.
      /Jan

  88. “existing engine efficiency in the range of 25% – 30% in ordinary gasoline automobiles”
    Sorry to rain on your parade, but the boffins have been working overtime:
    “Toyota … with its new Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine. Set to make its market debut in the new 2019 Corolla, this engine is chock-full of innovations to help it achieve 40-percent thermal efficiency, a number unheard of in production car engines.
    “How does this 2.0-liter four-cylinder achieve such major efficiency? As Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained tells us, a lot of it comes down to simple engine design and tuning tricks. Toyota put a ton of attention into refining the airflow characteristics of the port- and direct-injected engine, optimizing the tumbling flow of the intake charge for efficient burning. The 13:1 compression ratio helps get even more power out of each revolution.”
    https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/car-technology/a19592640/toyotas-new-engine-is-hyper-efficient-thanks-to-simple-tuning-tricks/
    “Mercedes-AMG says that in Dyno testing at its Brixworth, UK engine factory this power unit can achieve over 50-percent thermal efficiency. In other words, this V6 can create more power than waste energy, which as Motorsport points out, makes it one of the most efficient internal-combustion engines on the planet. Motorsport also says that this engine can actually operate at similar levels of thermal efficiency as diesel engines used in large ships.
    “To better put that figure into context, AMG notes that F1’s much-beloved old V10 engines only operated with about 30-percent thermal efficiency. When the V6 turbo era began in 2014, AMG’s engine converted 44-percent of its fuel into power. With the increase in thermal efficiency between 2014 and now, AMG’s power unit effectively makes 109 more horsepower using the same amount of fuel.”
    https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/a12443313/mercedes-amgs-f1-engine-is-amazingly-efficient/

    • Thank you for interesting links Walter,
      But I a bit sceptic to claims from car manufacturers on progress that is said to be coming on their models soon.
      40%, or even 50%, thermal efficiency can be achieved for engines running at optimal RPM and load, but the situation is another for a car on the road in variable traffic.
      I suspect that the claims from Corolla and Mercedes are based on situations that are more laboratory-like than traffic-like.
      /Jan

      • Better than leaving out the heat engine that generates the electricity your golf cart runs on.

      • Yes this one is experimental, but it is 60%:
        Super Efficient Engine Uses Gas AND Diesel – RCCI

  89. I have been pulled around by an electric motor for the last 5 years. I would not go back to driving a conventional ICE car for any reason. It isn’t the CO2 or the cost. It is just a far better drive. For sure five years ago I could have found a way to get myself from A to B more cheaply: but people pay bigger money for “high performance” dinosaurmobiles than I paid.
    From a national perspective the issue isn’t CO2 or grid efficiency. It is survival of the Western auto industry. Costs are coming down and range is going up (compare the 2014 and 2018 Leaf in Wikipedia). If the bright people on here keep trashing EVs on the basis of half-truths, urban myths, zero experience and because greens like ’em, they will contribute to the demise of a major chunk of our industry

  90. “There’s life in the old gal yet.” The gas engine abides.
    https://gas2.org/2018/01/30/mazda-says-new-skyactive-3-engines-will-clean-electric-cars/
    Mazda Says New SkyActive 3 Engines Will Be As Clean As Electric Cars January 30, 2018
    Here are four recent videos on Mazda’s new “spark-controlled compression-ignition” engine, the best of which is :
    “Skyactiv-X: Mazda’s Revolutionary Engine Explained”
    http://bit.ly/2GxOg1K
    It’ll be coming in summer 2019, with a claimed 30% improvement in fuel economy. Here’s an article and two other videos on it:
    “Spark Controlled compression-ignition” gasoline skyactiv X engine; Feb. 2018 article:
    http://bit.ly/2GPUrl9
    “Mazda Creates The Holy Grail Of Gasoline Engines – HCCI SkyActiv-X”
    http://bit.ly/2GBsH0p
    Mazda Skyactiv-X HCCI Engine Technology Explained | AutoExpert John Cadogan | Australia 8/17
    http://bit.ly/2wy9tUH
    A Feb. 24 YouTube video of a German test driver commenting on a pre-production version of the latest iteration of the Mazda 3 with its new SkyActiv X engine. He says it’s quiet and more powerful

  91. You people obviously don’t live in a city like L.A. If EVs were so great, they’d be flying off the showroom floors. Most people can’t afford completely impractical toys pretending to be real motor vehicles.

    • They are flying off the shelves, as a matter of fact. EV sales in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2018 were up 32%, compared with sales of cars, which were down 11%. As a result, the share of plug-in cars went from 2.8% of the car market to 4% of the market in one year. That’s a big change.

      • Wow. So pure EV (not hybrid) sales went from, what, 0.185% of total auto sales to 0.190%?

      • Pure ev share of new vehicles was 1.1% in the us in 2017.

        Yeah, no. From you link:

        For the first time in US history, sales of EVs – both plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) – finished above the 1 percent market share level for the entire year.

        The article is about electric vehicles, not hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles. Nice try, but the author’s statement about pure EV sales is correct. Well, at least the second part:

        Many different sources all forecast that the market share of EV will grow from the current 0.2 percent.

      • Capitalist, you are right, I did not see that they also counted plug in hybrids.
        However, as I said, never underestimate an exponential growth curve. I still think it will cross the 50% mark before 2030. Time will show.
        /Jan

      • Comparisons need to be like-to-like.
        Battery power has notable limitations because of the far lower energy density. Therefore, the comparison needs to be for sedans. Even there, it’s imperfect because at this stage, batteries really make sense only in compact vehicles, the Tesla Model X notwithstanding.
        In the U.S., plug-in cars were 4% of car sales in 1Q18 compared with 2.8% a year earlier. If we got more granular, the numbers would almost certainly look even better for plug-ins.

      • Capitalist, almost 17 million new cars per month must be wrong. Think of it, it will be more new cars than citizens in the us in less than two years.
        I see that you link to a site that claims it, but they must have made an error.
        /Jan

    • Yes, Jan Kjetil Andersen, you’re right: I didn’t read the fine print in that St. Louis Federal Reserve chart:

      Units: Millions of Units, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate

      Emphasis mine. Redoing the math with this chart’s data:

      Pure EV Feb 2018 sales: 10.1 thousand
      Total light vehicle Feb 2018 sales: 1.29 million
      Dividing the former by the latter: 0.8%.

      Less than 1% of vehicles sold in February were pure, non-gasoline engine electrics.

      • In 1Q18, plug-in cars captured 4% of the car market, up from 2.8% in 1Q17. Half of the plug-ins were battery-only, and the other half were plug-in hybrids. This doesn’t include hybrids that lack plugs.

      • In 1Q18, plug-in cars captured 4% of the car market, up from 2.8% in 1Q17. Half of the plug-ins were battery-only, and the other half were plug-in hybrids. This doesn’t include hybrids that lack plugs.

        Source(s) please. I’ve shown you mine; you show me yours.

  92. A Mazda/Toyota partnership is building a $500 million factory in Alabama to produce a PHEV using Mazda’s rotary engine running constantly at its optimal speed (so no seal leaks). They wouldn’t be doing so if they don’t think this will be a world-beater (and likely an EV-beater).

  93. At http://bit.ly/2I1MRC1 26 April 2018:
    [short version]:

    From the Bosch paper presented at the Vienna Motor Symposium this year (in April).
    Bosch says it has solved diesel NOx problem; as low as 13 mg NOx/km even under RDE; refining existing technologies
    Bosch says that its engineers have refined existing diesel technologies to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) so significantly that they already comply with future limits. Even in RDE (real driving emissions) testing, emissions from vehicles equipped with the newly premiered Bosch diesel technology are not only significantly below current limits but also those scheduled to come into force from 2020 (Euro 6d).
    Because the solution leverages existing technology, there is no need for additional components, which would drive up costs.
    …………..
    A dynamic driving style demands an equally dynamic recirculation of exhaust gases. This can be achieved with the use of a RDE-optimized turbocharger that reacts more quickly than conventional turbochargers. … This means drivers can drive off at speed without a spike in emissions.
    To ensure optimum NOx conversion, the exhaust gases must be hotter than 200 degrees Celsius. In urban driving, vehicles frequently fail to reach this temperature. Bosch has therefore opted for a sophisticated thermal management system for the diesel engine.
    At a press event in Stuttgart Bosch had dozens of journalists, from both Germany and abroad, drive test vehicles equipped with mobile measuring equipment in heavy city traffic, under especially challenging conditions.
    AI can further boost performance.
    This will mark another step toward a major landmark: the development of a combustion engine that—with the exception of CO2—has virtually no impact on the ambient air.
    Denner also called for a renewed focus on CO2 emissions. Denner said that consumption tests should no longer be conducted in the lab but rather under real driving conditions.
    Moreover, he added, any assessment of CO2 emissions should extend significantly further than the fuel tank or the battery—a full well-to-wheels lifecycle approach.

  94. “The Norwegian electric car revolution is at risk of becoming a failure”
    https://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/den-norske-elbil-revolusjonen-star-i-fare-for-a-bli-en-fiasko/69749403
    (Translations by Chrome)
    “In 2016, the Storting adopted a tough target that all new cars sold in 2025 should be zero-emission cars.”
    “Our country is an electric car paradise, with duty free cars on the roads and max half price for parking, ferry and boat. In March, the electric car’s share of new car sales was 37 percent. So far this year, every third new car is an electric car.”
    “But in the shadow of this gratifying development, some serious hurdles hide along the way towards the 2025 goal. New reports show that we are in trouble.
    “The Transport Economics Department has made a model that shows that in order to reach almost 100 per cent electric car within the deadline, with the same level of taxation on fossil cars as now, the electric car benefits must be extended until the deadline – 2025.”
    “But most importantly, of course, is the economic cost. If all of the people are allowed to buy tax-free cars, the government loses huge revenues.”
    “Because we had high car fees, the duty free electric cars were relatively cheap. In the next year’s budget, politicians have to start charging [higher] fees on fossil cars, so that when the fee for electric cars will be phased in from 2021, the competitive advantage will be maintained at the same time as the state treasury gets its [share].”
    The implication here is that electric cars are popular because of price and tax manipulations.

  95. Very good article. Treats EVs as a car not a cause in either direction.
    I’d have commented earlier, given that I was all over the comment threads on the anti-EV articles, but I live in the countryside and my Internet satellite went out for a couple weeks.

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